Aggravating Factors in a Chicago Hate Crime

Illinois has defined certain crimes that are committed against people because of particular or perceived characteristics in 720 ILCS 5/12-7.1. Defined as “hate crimes,” these are serious offenses, and can subject offenders to fines, restitution, probation, and even jail time. Bringing a case against someone under Illinois’ hate crime statute requires that the state prove that the crime was motivated by some impermissible animus, which can usually only be demonstrated by circumstantial evidence. As a result, there are often ample ways in which an experienced criminal defense attorney can defend a person accused of a hate crime.

What offenses can be considered hate crimes?

In order to be considered a hate crime, two requirements must be met:

·         A person commits an assault, battery, aggravated assault, misdemeanor theft, criminal trespass to residence, misdemeanor criminal trespass to real property, mob action, disorderly conduct, harassment by telephone, or harassment through electronic communications.

·         The “reason” behind the crime must be the victim’s or victims’ actual or perceived race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, gender, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, or national origin.

In order to prove a hate crime case, the prosecution must both establish that all elements of the crime were committed, and that the alleged offender was motivated by one of the reasons made impermissible by the statute. Each element must be established beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the highest burden of proof required by our judicial system. Consequently, in many cases a skilled Chicago criminal defense attorney can reduce the allegations leveled against you and in some cases may even be able to have the case completely dropped.

Hate Crimes in Certain Places Can Be More Serious

When hate crimes are committed in certain places, the legal consequences imposed can be significantly more serious. These locations include the following:

  • A synagogue, church, mosque, or other place used for worship or another religious purpose;
  • In a place used for burying or memorializing the dead;
  • In an educational facility, including a school, dormitory, or administrative facility associated with an educational institution;
  • In an ethnic or religious community center or a public park;
  • On the property of any of the first 4 categories in this list; or
  • On a public way within 1,000 feet of the property of the first 4 categories on this list.

720 ILCS 5/12-7.1 also requires that any court imposing a sentence based on a hate crime order either restitution or a fine of up to $1,000. Additionally, if an offender is given probation or conditional discharge, he or she must perform 200 hours of community service as well as an educational program discouraging hate crimes if he or she caused criminal damage to property involving religious items.

Contact a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney Today

Anyone facing a hate crimes case should retain an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. A hate crime conviction on your record can affect you for years, and can significantly hurt your reputation in your community. As a result, it is important that you mount the strongest legal defense possible. Call Goldman & Associates today at (773) 484-3131 or (847) 215-2600 to schedule a free consultation.

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