What Is a Hate Crime?
Penal Code 422.55 PC defines hate crime as a criminal act committed due to the victim’s disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics.
What is an Actual Characteristic for Hate Crime Pruposes?
An actual characteristic for hate crime purposes essentially means that the individual is committing a hate crime towards another due to the victim’s actual status regarding disability, gender, or any of the other listings as seen under Penal Code 422.55 PC.
What is a Perceived Characteristic?
A perceived characteristic for hate crime purposes means that the individual commits a hate crime that is not based on one of the characteristics listed under Penal Code 422.55 PC but that they perceived the victim as such. For example, an individual may have the impression that a person they have seen around their neighborhood is of a certain sexual orientation that they do not like and because of this perception, that individual commits a crime against this neighbor. However, the neighbor was
never of the sexual orientation the individual perceived them to be. Nonetheless, since the individual perceived his neighbor to be of a certain sexual orientation and therefore committed a crime against this person, they would still be committing a hate crime.
Prosecuting Hate Crimes in California
There are several ways that a hate crime can be prosecuted. Under Penal Code 422.6 PC, it is a crime for a person to commit a hate crime. Additionally, there are other penal codes that pertain to sentence enhancing or additional penalties.
For example, under Penal Code 422.75 PC, additional penalties apply on an individual when: 1) they are convicted of a misdemeanor, or 2) that misdemeanor is also proven to be a hate crime. Also, Penal Code 422.7 PC imposes sentencing enhancement on an accused if: 1) they are convicted of a felony, and 2) that felony is also proven to be a hate crime.
What are the Penalties If Convicted Under Hate Crime Penal Code 422.75 PC?
Under California law, the commission of a hate crime is considered a misdemeanor, which is punishable by: 1) imprisonment in a county jail for up to one (1) year, and/or 2) a maximum fine of $5,000. However, should an individual commit a crime that is proven to also be a hate crime, then that individual can be charged with a felony and get a penalty enhancement, as mentioned above for up to three (3) years.