Hate Crimes

California has a hate crimes law in effect that can affect a defendant’s sentence if the crime they committed was motivated by hate. Penal Code 422.55 PC imposes severe penalties for attacking, harassing, or threatening someone because of their gender, disability, race or ethnicity, nationality, religion, or sexual orientation.

Under California law, hate crimes have two major components. Penal Code 422.6 PC makes it illegal to interfere with someone else’s legal and civil rights or damage / destroy their property because of the person’s characteristics as outlined in the previous paragraph. Penal Code 422.7 PC and Penal Code 422.75 PC stipulate that anyone who commits a crime such as vandalism or assault while motivated by the victim’s possession of one of the above characteristics is guilty of a hate crime and may receive a harsher sentence.

It is important to note that perception is a key factor in a hate crime arrest. If a person yells anti-Jewish threats during an assault, they can be charged with a hate crime even if it turns out that the victim was not Jewish.