Hate crimes have recently become a persistent issue across the country. As the number of crimes based on race, religion and sexual orientation rises, many minorities are feeling unsafe in their homes and communities. To combat this growing problem, a California lawmaker has introduced a new piece of legislation that would create a registry to list all those who commit hate crimes.
What is a Hate Crime?
A hate crime is a criminal act committed against another person that is motivated by the persons:
- Sexual orientation
- Association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics
If you commit a crime against someone due to any of the above motivations, the sentence for your crime could be enhanced.
California Hate Crimes Registry
Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra (D-San Fernando Valley) recently introduced Assembly Bill 39. AB 39 would work similar to California’s sex offender registry. The Department of Justice would keep a public database listing anyone convicted of a hate crime. If passed, this proposed law would create a hate crimes registry. It would publicize the names of any criminals convicted of a hate crime and list for what crimes they were convicted.
Currently, the Attorney General directs local law enforcement agencies to submit an annual report to the California Department of Justice regarding hate crimes that have occurred in their jurisdictions. These statistics include the number of hate crimes committed, the types of offenses the hate crimes were, the number of victims and suspects, and any information relating to how the cases were prosecuted.
An Increase in Hate Crimes
The Department of Justice released data showing that the number of hate crimes in California increased by 10.4 percent in 2015. Incidents involving religious bias increased 49.6 percent, while incidents involving hate crimes against Hispanics and Latinos increased 35 percent. The number of hate crime victims increased 10.4 percent.
Bocanegra cites these results as one of his primary reasons for proposing a hate crime registry. He also said that current events, including the election of Donald Trump’s as president, has increased the amount of intolerance in local communities. Bocanegra hopes that his proposed legislation will send a message that violence, especially the kind rooted in bigotry, won’t be tolerated.
Before the Bill can be made into law Bocanegra must outline a course of action for a hate crime registration system and how it will be enacted. Because a majority vote is needed in the Senate for it to pass, Bocanegra says he will begin to bring Democrats, Republicans, law enforcement agencies and victims’ rights groups together to rally support for the bill.
Hate Crimes Attorneys
The punishment for hate crimes is already very harsh, and the penalties may become more severe if this proposed legislation is passed into law. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you could face years in prison if you are convicted of a hate crime. That is why you should consult with a seasoned criminal defense attorney if you have been accused of a hate crime.
If you wish to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney about your matter, call (888) 280-6839 for a free phone consultation.