California Penal Code Section 422.6 PC, 422.7 and 422.75: Hate Crimes

hate crime1. Definition and Elements of the Crime

The California legislature recognizes that certain crimes are more serious where a victim is specifically singled out because of his or her gender, nationality, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or disability. These offenses are commonly referred to as hate crimes, and can serve as a stand-alone crime under California Penal Code Section 422.6 PC (interfering with the civil rights of another) or an enhancement that will increase penalties for other misdemeanors and felonies under California Penal Code Section 422.7 PC and California Penal Code Section 422.75 PC.

To prove interference with another’s civil rights, a prosecutor must be able to establish the following elements:

  1. The defendant used force or threats to willfully interfere with, injure, intimidate or oppress another person’s legally protected right.
  2. The defendant did so in whole or in part because of the other person’s actual or perceived disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation
  3. The defendant intended to interfere with the other person’s legally protected right.

In addition, if a misdemeanor or felony is committed for any of the reasons listed, the sentence can be increased under the hate crime enhancements under California Penal Code Section 422.7 PC (misdemeanor enhancement) and California Penal Code Section 422.75 PC (felony enhancement).

2. Examples

Members of an anti-immigrant hate group plan on disrupting a legal assembly held by people who they believe to be immigrants. They find the group and prevent them from conducting the lawful assembly by playing loud music, pushing and shoving people at the assembly and reciting racist chants. The hate group learns later that everyone they thought was an immigrant was actually a lawful U.S. citizen. The individual members of the hate group could be charged with a hate crime under California Penal Code Section 422.6 PC, even if the people they interfered with were not actually immigrants.

A man out drinking sees a same-sex couple leaving a gay bar. The man accosts the couple and viciously beats one of the other men. In addition to battery, the man could be charged with a hate crime enhancement for singling his victim out on the basis of sexual orientation. The enhancement would apply even if the victims were not gay, as long as the defendant thought they were when he attacked them.

3. Related Offenses

Related offenses include:

  1. AssaultCalifornia Penal Code Section 240 PC
  2. BatteryCalifornia Penal Code Section 242 PC
  3. Disturbing with a Public MeetingCalifornia Penal Code Section 403 PC
  4. Disturbing a Religious MeetingCalifornia Penal Code Section 302 PC
4. Defenses to Hate Crimes

If the crime was not motivated by hate or bias, then the hate crime enhancement would not be applicable. This distinction often arises in criminal charges regarding crimes committed between rival ethnic gangs. The ethnicity of the victim may only be incidental to the crime, thus hate crime enhancements may be inapplicable. However, there are situations where the hate crime enhancement would be appropriate when the gang’s crime was clearly racially motivated.

5. Penalties

A conviction for interfering with a another person’s civil rights under California Penal Code Section 422.6 PC is a misdemeanor that can be punished by up to a year in jail, expensive court fines and up to 400 hours of community service.

For those who are convicted of any misdemeanor that was motivated by bias and the misdemeanor caused the victim to suffer an injury or the defendant had the ability to violently commit injury, the misdemeanor caused property damage in excess of $950, OR the defendant has a previous conviction under California Penal Code Section 422.6 PC, then the underlying misdemeanor can be enhanced to a “wobbler,” that can charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. If convicted of the felony, the defendant can then be sentenced to up to three years in prison.

For defendants charged with felony offenses, the hate crime enhancement can add an additional three years in prison on top of to any other sentence they receive for the underlying charge.

6. Criminal Defense for Hate Crime Cases

If you have been charged with a hate crime or are facing a hate crime enhancement, it is very important that you speak with an experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney right away. This is a serious allegation that can significantly increase jail or prison sentences. Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who is highly skilled at handling charges of this nature. Mr. Kraut is highly respected throughout the court system as a passionate advocate who works tirelessly to provide his clients the best defense possible.

For more information about hate crimes, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1480, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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