Living in a multicultural setting requires all citizens to observe practices and laws prohibiting hate crimes as provided in the California Penal Code. When you face a hate crime felony accusation with potential sentence enhancements, you must contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to ensure you receive the most effective legal assistance.

With a skilled lawyer who understands the nature of hate crimes and sentencing, you are in a better position to persuade the court to issue a lenient outcome. Further, your attorney will be available to provide more information on your case as required.

By choosing a reliable lawyer, you will work with an experienced team of criminal defense attorneys on your case who aim to help you understand the sentencing process for a felony hate crime, including whether you are liable to receive an enhancement.

What a Hate Crime Enhancement Entails

When you commit an offense against someone based on their physical characteristics, beliefs, or nationality, you may be liable for propagating a hate crime. The violation is prohibited under Section 422.6 of the California Penal Code, which lists the common motivators for offenders accused of the crime.

You are likely to face arrest and charges for a hate crime if you commit an offense against someone because:

  • They live with a disability.
  • They have a different sexual orientation than yours.
  • They are of a different race or ethnicity from yours.
  • They practice a different religion.
  • They are of a different gender than you.
  • They are of a different nationality.
  • They have a close association with people with the characteristics listed above.

Criminal offenses against the targeted person vary depending on the circumstances of your case, and the prosecutor handling your case should obtain all the important information in advance. Examples of offenses amounting to a hate crime include assault, brandishing a weapon, battery, causing chaos and mayhem around the targeted group, and exposing them to violent acts.

Some offenses among the many offenders may commit qualify as felonies, meaning that they attract serious legal penalties for you upon conviction. Your engagement in a felony offense is enough to impose criminal penalties, but in this case, you are also answerable for targeting a specific victim, hence the hate crime.

The penal code aims to deter people from committing felony offenses like hate crimes by enhancing sentences for anyone found guilty. Under Section 422.75, the judge presiding over your case is mandated to enhance your sentence if they find you guilty of engaging in a felony offense as a hate crime.

If your case falls within the enhancement category, you must ensure all components are present to ensure the sentence enhancement is lawful. Your criminal attorney will assess the prosecutor's and judge’s reasoning in qualifying your case for a sentence enhancement.

During the checks, they may pick up on issues that do not directly indicate that your offense was a hate crime. Your attorney may therefore move the court to consider whether the prosecutor met all elements of a crime necessary to qualify your case for sentence enhancement.

Elements for the Prosecutor to Prove in Hate Crime Penalty Enhancement Cases

As an arrested party facing trial, you still have the right to a fair hearing and sentencing process according to your constitutional rights. Based on this, the prosecutor must prove all elements of the crime before the judge enhances your penalties for committing a felony hate crime.

The prosecutor handles the burden of proof in all criminal matters, meaning they must sufficiently prove their case to persuade the court to take action. Your attorney can help you prepare for hearings by guiding you through the elements of the crime that the prosecutor must prove before you face a sentence enhancement. They are:

You Face Conviction for Committing a Felony

Sentencing hearings occur after the trial stage, which encompasses the prosecutor presenting evidence against you and your defense attorney countering the evidence. As a result, you are likely to already know your case verdict concerning the felony offense in question, and if you are in a sentencing hearing, it means the judge found you guilty.

Showing you have been convicted of a felony offense is mainly a formality because all parties are present from the onset of the case. The prosecutor will, therefore, only need to cite the presiding judge’s verdict to demonstrate that your case meets the first element.

Your Felony Offense Was a Hate Crime

Showing that you committed a felony because of discriminatory motivations is also important, as it constitutes a hate crime. Most hate crimes involve direct discrimination, whereby the offender commits an overt act targeting the party they intend to cause harm.

The prosecutor handling your case should demonstrate the link between your unlawful actions and your motives to harm a specific person or group. To do this, they refer to any witness testimonies, footage, or police reports that can reveal your biased motivation. For example, verbally expressing dissatisfaction with the victim can help build the prosecutor’s case that you intend to commit a hate crime.

Your Illegal Actions Were Based on an Illegal Bias

The law has taken considerable steps to safeguard all people, regardless of their different backgrounds. Section 422.6 of the Penal Code formally prohibits some biases, as they directly indicate a hate crime. For example, racism, misogyny, and nationalist discrimination are not permitted legally, making it a legal violation to commit a hate crime on these grounds.

The main distinction between this crime element and the second one is that the latter involves any biased motivation, including those not mentioned in the penal code. Depending on your case, the court can use either element of the crime to justify issuing sentence enhancements, so you need to consult your attorney if you have any concerns.

Sentence Enhancements to Expect for Committing a Felony Hate Crime

A hate crime penalty enhancement for felonies entails violating the law on two counts, hence the need for additional penalties. The main sentence is punishment for committing a felony offense, and it varies depending on the initial charges you face. For example, if you committed aggravated assault as a hate crime, you may face separate charges compared to someone who committed a firearm offense.

Prison Sentence Enhancements

The provisions under Section 422.75 apply to justify additional penalties, and the judge can use their discretion to establish the most suitable sentence. If you are guilty on all counts, you may face one, two, or three years in prison.

Some cases also involve committing the offense with another person, where you may have instituted the offense yourself or helped the person commit the crime. If so, the court still imposes an enhancement ranging between two, three, or four years in prison on top of the initial sentence.

Probation Penalties

Your defense attorney may successfully persuade the court to issue a probation sentence instead of a prison one, giving you a chance to continue with your life. Although probation sentences seem more lenient because you avoid confinement, you must also meet all court obligations or risk having the judge reinstate your prison terms.

Felony or formal probation requires you to undertake the following:

Comply With Electronic Monitoring

Electronic monitoring is important because it helps the court monitor your location, daily activities, and order compliance. It is, therefore, a primary requirement in many formal probation penalties, making it important to observe the regulations.

Your defense attorney will provide guidelines on meeting court orders, including wearing your electronic anklet for location monitoring. The anklet limits mobility if you are on house probation to prevent you from escaping the country.

Electronic monitoring also encompasses giving the court access to your phone, including your social media platforms. Court personnel may have to monitor your messages to ensure you do not continue inciting or contemplating another hate crime. The monitoring should conclude after you complete your probation sentence by observing all other court orders.

Meet With Your Probation Officer Regularly

Formal probation terms also require you to meet regularly with your probation officer for updates on your compliance. They track and keep your progress record for court presentations, so missing a meeting can be detrimental to completing your probation sentence. If you have justified reasons to skip your probation meeting, you can inform your defense attorney, who will then convey the information to the officer.

Once in a while, your formal probation officer may also direct you to appear in court to testify about your progress yourself. They may do this if the judge wants to assess your behavioral progress, especially if you are in an anger management or drug rehabilitation program. You can request that your attorney accompany you during these sessions, although your participation is necessary.

Pay Court Fines and Fees

Although you may avoid a prison sentence for committing a felony hate crime, you may still have to pay fines and court fees. The orders are a punitive measure to deter you from future engagement in similar offenses, so the judge may order you to pay a significantly high amount. Despite this, they should issue orders guided by the penal code and sentencing policy provisions.

If you cannot raise the court fine and fees issued as part of your punishment, you can request that your attorney find alternative payment options or contact your close loved ones. Their assistance is especially important if your trial and sentence hearing occurred while you were in full-time custody.

Comply with Community Supervision Orders

Hate crimes can cause insecurity in the community, leading the court to impose community supervision against you. The judge does this to empower the community members and to ensure you can demonstrate your ability to reintegrate into the community.

Some community supervision orders include the need to issue an apology to the targeted members of your crime and to reassure them that you will not re-engage in the actions in the future. You may also need to attend a community reconciliation meeting to explore additional dispute resolution options for your case.

Since different communities may introduce additional supervision conditions, you should strive to comply with their requirements. In doing so, you are one step closer to completing your probation sentence and returning to your everyday life.

Paying Restitution to the Victims

Your felony offense is likely to cause losses to the victim, creating the need for restitution payments. A restitution fee works like a compensatory fee in civil cases and aims to help the victim recover for the losses incurred. A restitution fee is, however, only sometimes commensurate with the damage caused. It should primarily show the offender’s remorse, and the court may adjust it as a punitive measure.

After paying the money to the victim, you will inform your probation officer, who will send a copy of your transaction records to the court. The probation officer or the judge will also contact the victims to confirm receipt of the payments.

After completing all the probation terms, your defense attorney will apply for your case's dismissal and subsequent record sealing where possible. Doing so helps you rebuild your life after serving the enhanced sentence.

Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer Near Me

Facing hate crime accusations can attract serious outcomes, including a jail or prison sentence and fine penalties. You also risk facing sentence enhancements if your case involves a felony charge, warranting the need to work with a criminal defense attorney. After concluding the criminal hearing, your lawyer will help you prepare for sentencing and assess the possible outcomes based on your case circumstances. Their input and guidance are useful, so you want to partner with an experienced lawyer to ensure you receive quality support.

At the Law Office of Sara L. Caplan, you can count on us to provide excellent legal services geared toward helping you receive a fair sentence. Our goal is to establish justifiable defenses during the trial stage to persuade the judge to consider a less severe penalty, allowing you to return to your everyday life sooner.

We are also determined to support you throughout your trial and sentencing process to help you navigate the court directives the judge may issue. Our services remain open to clients facing hate crime charges with possible sentence enhancements for felony crimes in Los Angeles, California. For more information on hate crime penalty enhancements for felonies, call us today at 310-550-5877.