by Robin Sandoval
On Monday, August 25 a man was assaulted upon leaving a restaurant on McBean Parkway in Santa Clarita. According to reports, the 24-year-old man was eating at the restaurant and, upon leaving, was followed outside by two males. The men followed the victim to his car, where they allegedly assaulted him, hitting the victim repeatedly in the face while shouting racial epithets.
The two suspects are described as white males between the ages of 23 and 27, from 5’8” to 5’9” tall, with shaved heads and tattooed arms. The investigation is being described as a possible hate crime, and the Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Station deputies are interested in anyone with information regarding the two suspects.
According to California Hate Crimes Law, a person’s motivation for committing a crime can influence the sentence if he or she is convicted.
Hate Crimes are stated under California Penal Codes — 422.55, 422.6, 422.7 and 422.75 PC.
What the laws describe is that it is illegal to commit a crime against someone based on their religion, race, sexual orientation, nationality, gender or disability and that the State is allowed to severely increase the defendant’s punishment if they are found guilty of doing so.
A crime doesn’t necessarily have to be violent or destructive in nature in order to be classified as a hate crime. Additionally, one doesn’t necessarily have to violate any other California Law in order to be charged with a hate crime.
As an example, let’s say it’s election day and someone is volunteering at a polling place in the city. Whenever people of one certain race show up to vote, the volunteer gives them incorrect information as to how and where to vote.
In this case, the volunteer isn’t physically harming these people or being rude in any way. However, their deliberate actions are interfering with a citizens’ right to vote, which is protected under the U.S. Constitution. As a result, the volunteer could be charged with a hate crime even though they didn’t actually break any laws.
Hate crimes are typically charged as misdemeanors if they involve damaging a person’s property or infringing on their civil rights based upon one of the characteristics listed above. If convicted, a person can face possible sentences of: misdemeanor probation, a fine of up to $5,000, up to one year in county jail, and/or up to 400 hours of community service.
If the hate crime is charged as a felony, the possible penalties can take a pretty big jump. They can include: felony probation, 16 months to 3 years in California State prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
In both of the above cases, the penalties described are possible if the crime the defendant committed was a misdemeanor under California Law.
If the crime an individual commits is a felony, and is deemed by a jury to also be a hate crime, then under California Penal Code 422.75 PC the sentence could be significantly increased. Depending on the circumstances of the crime, an additional 1-4 years in State Prison could be added to the sentence.