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California AG Says Hate Crimes Increased Nearly 33% in 2021

The 2021 Hate Crime in California Report released on June 28, 2022, showed that overall hate crime had increased by 32.6% over 2020.

“Today’s report undeniably shows that the epidemic of hate we saw spurred on during the pandemic remains a clear and present threat,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta.

At 1,763 bias events in 2021, hate crimes are at their highest reported level since 2001 and the sixth-highest rate ever.

Reported hate crimes increased against these targeted groups:

  • Blacks: 12.5%
  • Asians: 177.5%
  • Hispanics/Latino: 29.6%
  • Sexual Orientation Bias: 47.8%

Blacks may have had the smallest increase but remain the most-targeted group with 513 cases in 2021. Among hate crime events involving a religious bias, the most prevalent were anti-Jewish, which increased 32.2% from 115 in 2020 to 152 in 2021.

Hate crime accusations can follow someone for the rest of their lives. Convictions can impact every aspect of your life. Contact our skilled attorneys at Corrigan Welbourn Stokke, APLC if you are implicated in a hate crime.

New Hate Crime Coordinator Position

Along with the release of the latest statistics, the attorney general announced the creation of a statewide hate crime coordinator position within the California Department of Justice’s Criminal Law Division to further assist state and local law enforcement efforts to combat hate crime.

Federal Focus on Hate Crimes

An increase in hate crimes is happening throughout the U.S. Last fall, the federal Department of Justice announced that $21 million would be awarded to state, local, and tribal agencies to improve how the agencies investigate and prosecute hate crimes. According to FBI statistics for 2020, there were 8,052 single-bias incidents and 11,126 victims in the U.S. There were also 211 multiple-bias hate crimes involving 346 victims.

What Is a Hate Crime?

The California Department of Justice has collected and reported statewide data on hate crimes since 1995.

Under California law, a hate crime is a criminal act committed in whole or in part because of the following:

  • Actual or Perceived Disability
  • Gender
  • Nationality
  • Race or Ethnicity
  • Religion
  • Sexual Orientation

A hate crime can also be committed against someone who associates with someone with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics.

From 2020 to 2021, the number of cases filed for prosecution by district attorneys and elected city attorneys involving hate crime charges increased by 30.1%.

Penalty Enhancements for Hate Crimes

Misdemeanor and felony convictions can be punished more severely if the crimes were motivated by bias. Prior felony hate crimes can also lengthen prison sentences.

Additional crimes that fall under hate crime include the following:

  • § 302 Disturbing Religious Meetings: Establishes that it is a misdemeanor to intentionally disturb a group of people who have met to worship, whether such disturbance occurs within the place where the meeting is held, or so near it as to disturb the order and solemnity of the meeting. (Penalty: up to one year in county jail and/or up to a $1,000 fine.)
  • § 594.3, subd. (b) Vandalism of a Place of Worship: Provides that it is a felony to knowingly vandalize a place of worship or a cemetery as a hate crime. (Penalty: 16 months, or two or three years in county jail.)
  • § 1170.8 Place of Worship Aggravating Circumstance: Provides as an aggravating factor the fact that a robbery, arson, or assault with a deadly weapon or by means of any force likely to produce great bodily injury was committed upon a place of worship, or against a person while that person was within a place of worship.
  • § 1170.85, subd. (b) Particularly Vulnerable Victim Aggravating Circumstance: Provides that age or disability of a victim may be considered circumstances in aggravation if those characteristics render the victim particularly vulnerable or unable to defend himself or herself.
  • § 11411, subds. (a), (b) Terrorizing Private Property: Subdivision (a) provides that it is a misdemeanor to hang a noose, knowing it to be a symbol representing a threat to life, on the private property of another, without authorization, for the purpose of terrorizing the owner or occupant of that private property or in reckless disregard of the risk of terrorizing them, or to hang a noose, knowing it to be a symbol representing a threat to life, on the property of a primary school, junior high school, college campus, public park, or place of employment, for the purpose of terrorizing any person who attends or works at, or is otherwise associated with, the school, park, or place of employment. Subdivision (b) provides that it is a misdemeanor to place or display a sign, mark, symbol, emblem, or other physical impression on the private property of another, without authorization, for the purpose of terrorizing the owner or occupant of that private property or in reckless disregard of the risk of terrorizing them. (Penalty: up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $5,000, with increased fine for subsequent convictions.)

Your Future Deserves Talented Legal Counsel

A hate crime allegation can shatter your reputation, damage important relationships, destroy your career, and take your freedom. We have more than 100 years of combined experience, including time as prosecutors. Our background gives us a tactical awareness not found in all criminal defense firms.

Contact us online to schedule a consultation. Need immediate help? We are available 24/7 by calling (949) 251-0330.