Houman Fakhimi

Hollywood Hate Crime can Bring Long-Term Jail Sentence

Police are investigating what they describe as a possible Hollywood hate crime following an alleged assault of a gay man on North Cahuenga Boulevard.

According to numerous media reports, a 39-year-old man, identified as Hispanic, was approached by three individuals, who asked whether he was homosexual. When he responded that he was, the men reportedly attacked him.

The man reportedly beaten unconscious, and the alleged attack was stopped by a passerby. He is expected to fully recover.

Hollywood Criminal Defense Attorney Houman Fakhimi knows that hate crimes in California are treated differently under the law than other types of alleged criminal actions.

Hate crimes can be considered felonies or misdemeanors in and of themselves, or it can be considered an enhancement for another crime if the motivation for that alleged crime was due to a person's color, race, ancestry, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation or disability.

There are hate crimes laws that have been enacted both at the federal and state level. California felony hate crimes are described in detail under the following statutes:

  • P.C. 422.7 - a crime carried out with the express purpose of interfering with someone else's right to exercise their civil rights;
  • P.C. 594.3 - vandalizing a house of worship because of religious or racial bias;
  • P.C. 11412 - threatening to obstruct peaceful practice of religion;
  • P.C. 11413 - using an explosive or other flammable agent to commit arson against a person or place on the basis of racial or religious bias.

Misdemeanor hate crimes are defined under a number of statutes as well, and include a wide range of actions, including: threatening use of force, placing unauthorized handbills or advertisements that display hateful language into newspapers or other products or engaging in a pattern of desecration of religious symbols.

In some cases, misdemeanor crimes can even be bumped up to felonies if they were motivated by one of the biases mentioned above.

As an enhancement, a hate crime can mean severe penalties. For example, an assault committed on the basis of any of the reasons outlined above is going to net an additional two to four years in prison - on top of the penalties for the assault itself.

New federal legislation in the form of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act expanded the laws under which someone can be prosecuted for a hate crime. Essentially, the law no longer requires the alleged victim to be engaged in a federally protected activity in order for the crime against them to be considered motivated by hate.

Of course, sometimes law enforcement and prosecutors can get carried away with these crimes. Just because an alleged victim is a minority or homosexual does not mean the crime was committed for that reason.

And even if you blurt out a racial or other slur, that does not automatically mean that hate was behind your alleged actions. And what's more, the First Amendment guarantees your right to free speech - no matter how offensive it may be.

If you are accused of a hate crime in Los Angeles, it will be important to secure a skilled criminal defense attorney who will know how to analyze every facet of your case to fight toward the best possible outcome for you.

Contact Houman Fakhimi trial attorney at (714) 705-6701 as soon as possible if you are charged with a crime. Protecting your rights and setting up an aggressive defense at the beginning stages is critical in defending against criminal charges.