Articles Tagged with hate crime

For the third year in a row, the rate of hate crimes increased in California. According to a report released by the California Attorney General’s office, there were 1,093 reported hate crimes in California in 2017, a 17.4% increase. This statistic follows an uptick in hate crimes since 2014: The amount of reported incidents jumped 44% in that three-year span.

What is a Hate Crime?

Hate crimes target people based on their race, sexual orientation, religion, or other protected class. More than half of the hate crimes reported in California last year involved racial basis, Black people, in particular, represented 27% of such reported incidents.

Hate Speech or Hate Crime?

Hate Speech is behavior motivated by hate but legally protected by the First Amendment right to freedom of expression. Examples include name-calling, insults, distributing hate material in public places, and displaying hate material on a person’s own property. Hate speech is permitted by the U.S. Constitution so long as it does not interfere with the civil rights of others.

A hate crime is a crime against a person, group, or property motivated by the victim’s real or perceived protected social group.

California Hate Crime Laws

Intent or motive to commit a crime is at the heart of most criminal offenses. Under the law, if one of the motivators for committing the crime is hate, the accused person will be subject to enhanced penalties, like a longer prison sentence or steeper fines.

California considers a person’s disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation protected characteristics. If a person is harmed, threatened, or harassed because of the person’s protected characteristics, then the law imposes severe additional punishment for the criminal offender.

How to Spot a Hate Crime

A hate crime occurs when a victim or property is targeted because they belong to a protected group, like race or religion. During the commission of the crime, the perpetrator often makes verbal comments showing prejudice.

Have You Been Charged With a Hate Crime in California?

Committing a violent crime against an individual from a protected class California is a serious offense. If you have been charged with a hate crime in California, you can face heavy fines and years of imprisonment. Consult a qualified San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney who can help mitigate your penalties. Continue reading

Earlier this weekend, a 23-year-old man named Carl James Dial from Palm Desert, CA, was arrested on on suspicion of committing a hate crime and arson in connection to a mosque in Riverside County, CA. On Friday afternoon, a fire was reported at the Islamic Center in Palm Springs. The fire was contained to the building’s front lobby, and no one was injured. The mosque is only 75 miles from San Bernardino, where the deadly shooting committed by Islamic extremists killed 14 people last month. It is the only mosque in Coachella valley.

In a statement released Friday evening, Congressional Rep. Raul Ruiz, whose district includes the area in which the mosque is located, called on authorities to investigate the fire as a possible hate crime. That same mosque was also hit by gunfire last November 2014 in what was also investigated as a possible hate crime.  

Mr. Dial was arrested and is being detained at the Riverside County Jail in Indio on suspicion of committing a hate crime, two counts of arson, one count of maliciously setting a fire, and one count of second-degree burglary. He is being held in lieu of a $150,000 bail. Authorities provided no details on how the fire was set. Mr. Dial is scheduled to appear in Court next week.

California Arson Law

California Penal Codes § 451 and 452 make it a crime to set fire to any building, forest land, or property willfully and maliciously or  recklessly. The punishment for arson in California depends on:

  • The type of property that was burned;
  • Whether someone was injured;
  • Whether you set fire willfully or only recklessly.  

Setting a fire recklessly is a misdemeanor, but it becomes a felony if someone is injured in the fire. Willful and malicious arson is always a felony in California, and you will even be charged with murder if you accidentally kill someone in the process (under the felony-murder rule).

California Hate Crime Law

California has its own specific statute which makes it a stand-alone crime to commit a hate crime. It is a felony to commit an act of assault or vandalism if your are motivated by one’s nationality, religion, gender, sexual orientation, race, or ethnicity. Hate crimes are punishable by three years imprisonment for each act. See CA Penal Code 422.6. Continue reading