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Understanding Hate Crimes and Their Penalties in Illinois

 Posted on March 19, 2021 in Criminal Defense

Joliet criminal defense lawyerThe topic of hate crimes has been in the news more and more over the past few years. In efforts to increase awareness about these types of crimes, police officers and government officials have focused more attention on hate crimes. Time, energy, and resources have been put into thoroughly investigating hate crimes, and legislation has enhanced the penalties for them. In Illinois, those who commit hate crimes are often charged with a felony offense and punished to the fullest extent of the law. To avoid being charged with a hate crime, it is important to understand what actions constitute them and also the criminal punishments if convicted of one.   

Violent Acts Committed Against Others

A hate crime occurs when a person commits a crime against another person or group because of their perceived race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or physical or mental disability. Typically, the acts committed against individuals in a hate crime are violent in nature and can include such offenses as:

  • Assault 

  • Battery

  • Stalking

  • Theft

  • Criminal trespassing

  • Vandalism

  • Disorderly conduct

  • Harassment 

Although some of the above offenses are physical in nature, such as inflicting injury or taking another person’s property, others involve the threat of force or intimidation. For example, stalking and harassment can include sending threatening emails, voicemails, or text messages to someone. Disorderly conduct may be any behavior that can cause someone else to become alarmed, frightened, angered, annoyed, as well as the likelihood of engaging in unlawful activity.

Illinois Punishments for Hate Crimes

At a minimum in Illinois, a hate crime is charged as a Class 4 felony for a first offense. This means that an alleged offender can face 1-3 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines. A second or subsequent conviction of a hate crime can be charged as a Class 2 felony, resulting in 3-7 years in jail.

It is important to note that it is possible to receive probation or conditional discharge for a hate crime sentence, but that does come with certain stipulations. A person may be required to perform at least 200 hours of community service and enroll in a certified educational program to learn about the status of the hate crime victim and discourage future commission of hate crimes.

Contact a Joliet Criminal Defense Lawyer 

Hate crimes are taken very seriously in the United States, including within the state of Illinois. If you or someone you know is facing charges for this type of criminal offense, it is essential that you obtain skilled legal representation to protect your rights. The knowledgeable Will County criminal defense attorneys at McNamara Phelan McSteen, LLC will carefully review the circumstances of your case and utilize the best possible defense strategy to help you avoid a conviction at all costs. Call our office today at 815-727-0100 to schedule a free consultation.





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