Hate crimes are serious offenses that can be prosecuted as both misdemeanor and felony charges. The media coverage on such recent hate crime cases as the trial of Rutgers student Dharun Ravi has shed new light on how the internet can be used to harass others. All of the attention, however, has led to many false accusations and even wrongful convictions for alleged offenses. If you are accused of committing this internet crime, you need to retain powerful legal advocacy as soon as possible to begin building your defense and ensure your rights are protected.
The California penal code defines a hate crime as an offense against another person committed in whole or in part because of some actual or perceived personal characteristics. You could be convicted if the court finds you guilty of willfully intimidating, injuring, or interfering with the constitutional rights of a victim through force or threat of force or if you intentionally damaged, destroyed, or defaced the victim’s personal property. Hate crimes are most often committed based on such characteristics as:
A person can be charged with this crime if they commit the offense with knowledge of the victim’s characteristics and even if they wrongfully believe the victim possesses the characteristics. Internet hate crimes involve a variety of actions against the victim, many of which also fall under the category of cyberbullying. The offense involves using the internet in some way to harass, stalk, or verbally abuse the victim.
You could be charged with a hate crime if law enforcement officers have reason to believe that you used the internet to impersonate the victim, send abusive or threatening emails or messages, share personal or embarrassing information about the victim without their permission, create degrading or harassing posts or websites, use forums or message boards to anonymously post hurtful messages to spread rumors about the victim, impersonate the victim in such a way that leads to or puts them in risk of physical danger, and a variety of other actions.
Possible penalties for conviction of a hate crime depend upon the circumstances of the offense. If you were convicted of a misdemeanor hate crime, your sentence could include:
If you were charged with a hate crime with aggravating factors, you will face felony allegations. The sentence for a felony hate crime carries the same penalties, but you may also be sentenced to an additional 2 to 4 years in state prison.
Internet hate crimes often involve other charges, such as stalking, harassment, or criminal threats, and these allegations are always dire, which is why you need the aggressive defense of an experienced criminal lawyer. Our talented attorneys at Okabe & Haushalter have effectively defended countless clients charged with internet offenses, and we are prepared to protect your rights and challenge the accusations made against you.
We are committed to providing our clients with the exceptional and relentless representation they deserve, and you can be confident that you will receive nothing less than excellence from our firm. No matter the circumstances of your case, your future and freedoms are at risk, which is why you cannot trust your trial to a weak public defender. To take the first step in vigorously fighting your charges, call our firm today to enlist a proven advocate for your team!