A Chicago Criminal Lawyer Can Help
Hate crimes involve criminal acts which are motivated by a bias or prejudice towards a specific group of people. In recent years, the federal government has stepped up its efforts to reduce the incidence of hate crimes. The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act was enacted in 2009 in order to allow the federal government an increased ability to investigate hate crimes. If you’ve been accused of a hate crime at the state or federal level, nothing is more important than choosing an experienced Chicago criminal attorney to protect your rights.
What is a hate crime?
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a hate crime refers to any “criminal offense committed against a person, property or society which is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity/national origin.” The Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 expanded the provisions of the 1969 federal hate crime law to specifically include crimes motivated by the victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender or gender identification.
Under Illinois law, a person commits a hate crime when “
by reason of the actual or perceived race, color, creed, religion,
ancestry, gender, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, or
national origin of another individual or group of individuals,
regardless of the existence of any other motivating factor or factors,
he commits assault, battery, aggravated assault, misdemeanor theft,
criminal trespass to residence, misdemeanor criminal damage to property,
criminal trespass to vehicle, criminal trespass to real property, mob
action or disorderly conduct
Examples of offenses that may be prosecuted as a hate crime include:
- Setting fire to a church, synagogue or other place of worship
- Physically assaulting, torturing or murdering someone because of their race
- Targeting a specific individual for robbery based on their sexual orientation
- Vandalizing a church, school, business, home or other structure because of a racial, religious, ethnic or sexual bias
- Making harassing or threatening phone calls
- Sending threatening letters, emails or texts
- Sexual harassment
- Vandalizing a vehicle or other personal property of a specific victim based on bias or prejudice
Penalties for Hate Crime Convictions
The federal government takes the prosecution of hate crimes very seriously and you may face stiff penalties if convicted on these charges. Depending on the type of offense involved, you may face one or more years in prison, life imprisonment or the death penalty. Federal law also allows victims the right to seek compensatory damages for any emotional or physical injuries they have suffered as the result of a hate crime. If you commit a hate crime along with one or more other individuals, you may also face conspiracy charges which are also punishable by imprisonment and fines.
If you’ve been charged with a hate crime under Illinois law, the penalty you may face depends on the type of offense you’ve been accused of. A hate crime is always classified as a felony offense and the penalties for felony convictions in Illinois range from a minimum of 1 to 3 years in prison to a maximum of 30 years in prison. In addition to prison time, you may also be ordered to pay fines and/or restitution and complete a period of community service or supervised parole upon your release. If the hate crime resulted in the death of another individual, the penalty may be increased to life in prison.
Contact Schmiege Law
If you’ve been charged with a hate crime in Illinois or at the federal level, you cannot afford to waste any time in contacting a qualified Chicago criminal defense lawyer. Located in the Chicago area, Attorney Michael Schmiege has the experience, skills and dedication necessary to mount an aggressive defense on your behalf. He will carefully review the facts of your case in order to develop the strongest defense strategy possible.
If you’re facing a federal hate crime charge, your life may literally be on the line. Call Attorney Michael Schmiege today at (312) 906-7800 today to get the expert legal representation you need to fight these serious charges.