What are hate crimes
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How Does The State of California Define Hate Crimes

In the past few years, the discussions regarding “hate crimes” have rapidly increased, both in the media and in daily conversations between people. With that said, what is defined as a “hate crime” largely varies from state-to-state and can be wrongly interpreted by the general public. 

As a result, we will do our best to explain what a “hate crime” is in the State of California so that you can easily determine if you’ve encountered one. 

What is a Hate Crime in the State of California? 

What constitutes a “hate crime” in California is defined in Penal Code 422.55, and it can be explained in the following manner: A hate crime is any criminal activity committed against a person because of one of the following reasons: 

  • Their gender
  • Their nationality
  • An illness they’re suffering from
  • A visible or invisible disability
  • Religious beliefs
  • A combination of all or a few of these personal characteristics

This means that if the prosecutor can prove that unlawful activity was committed against a person because of prejudice regarding their nationality, gender, race, etc., then this would be defined as a “hate crime” by the law. 

Along with statute 422.55, which defines the crime as hate-driven, there are three other penal codes related to hate crimes - 422.6, 422.7, and 422.75. Let’s take a look at what the purpose of each one is: 

  • Thanks to Penal Code 422.6, committing a hate crime is a stand-alone crime per California law. 
  • With Penal Code 422.5, an additional penalty is imposed on the person that was accused of a hate crime, if:
  • They get a misdemeanor conviction, and that conviction is proven to be related to a hate crime. 
  • Last but not least, thanks to Penal Code 422.75, people who have committed a hate crime can be sentenced to jail if their conviction was determined to be a felony.

As you can see, hate crimes are very well-defined in California law, and different penal codes impose harsher penalties, depending on the crime's severity. 

With that said, considering that “hate crime” can be a loosely used term, our advice is to always consult a lawyer if you or anyone close to you gets such an accusation. Regardless of the classification of the offense, it is important that you seek the assistance of competent legal counsel to help you best understand your legal defense while identifying an outcome that best minimizes your risk. We here at the H Law group patiently await your call.

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