With hate speech, insults, and trolling being an integral part of the Internet and social media, nearly anyone can be accused of a hate crime if you live in California, where residents rely heavily on social media and cell phones as their primary means for communication. In fact, statistics show that the number of hate crime events in California have been rising for the third year in a row.
“Undoubtedly, being a victim of a hate crime is one of the worst experiences you can imagine, but so is being wrongly accused of – or worse, wrongly charged with – a hate crime,” says our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer at Okabe & Haushalter
According to a report released by the California Department of Justice, there was a 17.4-percent increase in the number of reported hate crimes in 2017, rising from 931 in 2016 to nearly 1,100 hate crime events in 2017, the year that marked the beginning of the presidency of Donald Trump.
Interestingly, the number of hate crimes in California has been increasing steadily for three years in a row. Since 2014, the number of hate crimes has increased by nearly 44 percent.
Religiously-motivated hate crimes accounted for the largest increase in hate crimes in 2017, rising by more than 21 percent compared to the preceding year. In particular, there was a sharp increase in hate crimes targeting Muslims and Jews.
The number of hate crimes based on the victim’s sexual orientation, whether real or perceived, has also increased in recent years. There was a nearly 19-percent increase between 2016 and 2017, 207 and 246 hate crimes respectively.
Racially-motivated hate crimes accounted for the third largest increase. Hate crimes targeting individuals based on their race increased by 16 percent to 602 reported events in 2017, up from 519 in 2016. Interestingly, hate crimes against Hispanics and Latinos accounted for the most dramatic increase by nearly 52 percent (by contrast, hate crimes targeting African-Americans increased by more than 20 percent in 2017).
Our criminal defense lawyer Los Angeles reminds us that 2017 was the year when President Trump began spreading his anti-immigration rhetoric targeting illegal immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. The sharp and ongoing increase in the number of reported hate crimes in California comes after hate crime rates had decreased every year in the period between 2007 and 2014.
If you have been accused of a hate crime in Los Angeles or elsewhere in California, you are probably wondering how you can defend yourself against the allegations and what punishment you may be facing.
Our Los Angeles criminal defense attorney explains that California’s laws regarding hate crimes are very complicated. More often than not, being convicted of a “hate crime” enhances the defendant’s sentence or penalty for a separate offense committed against the alleged victim.
You can be charged with a hate crime if you commit a separate offense against an individual based on his or her real or perceived religion, race, skin color, sexual orientation, gender, nationality, or disability. If you are being accused of a hate crime, you need to act quickly.
Schedule a free consultation with our experienced criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Beverly Hills or elsewhere in California. Contact Okabe & Haushalter to get a free case evaluation today. Call at 310-430-7799.