Monder Law Group - News
Logan Heights Hate Crimes are on the Rise in San Diego
A man was beaten in the Logan Heights area last week. This would seem to be just a normal battery charge. However, the victim in the beating was an African American man, and the suspect was reported to have said that he did not like black people moments before the beatings occurred. In addition, to the suspect stating that he does not like black people he also yelled racial slurs at the victim when he continued to beat him. The suspect started with only his fist, but then he grabbed a bamboo stick and hit the victim in the head multiple times. When the suspect was done with the beating, he walked away and still has not been arrested. The victim went to the hospital with non-life threating injuries. The charge the suspect would be facing could also be “battery causing serious bodily harm.” However. there is more the suspect could be charged with, and that would be a hate crime.
The issue is whether the suspect here has committed a hate crime. A hate crime is where one commits a crime such as assault or vandalism, and one is motivated in part by the fact that the victim’s disability, gender, nationality, race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation, your criminal offense will be considered a “hate crime” . . . and as a result, one may receive an enhanced sentence. California Penal Code 422.7. We will look through the facts we are given by the news article and see if there is any standing for a hate crime charge against the suspect.
We must look to see if the first element of a hate crime is meant with regard to the suspect committing a crime. The suspect must willfully injure, intimidate, interfere with or threaten someone in a way that could prevent them from exercising their rights under the laws of California, the California Constitution, federal law, or the United States Constitution; OR Knowingly damage or destroy someone’s property for the purpose of interfering with their legal and constitutional rights. California Penal Code 422.6. Here, the suspect did beat the victim, because he beat the victim he would have fulfilled the requirement of committing a crime. A battery is more than sufficient to be the underlying offense for a hate crime. Moreover, because the suspect used a bamboo stick on the victim it is possible that there is an even high charge than a battery. Thus, the first element required to be able to charge the suspect with a hate crime is present.
The second element of a hate crime involves that a specific characteristic that motivated the suspect or that the suspect was biased against. There is a long list stated above of certain characteristics that would qualify. But the bias does not have to be the only factor motivating the alleged crime. If you had more than motivation, you can still face hate crime charges, as long as the bias was a substantial part of your motivation. Here, the most applicable characteristic of the victim would be based one race. This is because the suspect told the victim that “he did not like black people.” In addition, the suspect did more than that because he yelled racial slurs at the victim as he continued to beat him. The suspect may argue that he was not motivated by race, however, it is likely that the victim would prevail because the suspect addressed the victims race multiple times during and before the attack. It’s important to note that one can commit a hate crime in California even if it turns out that the victim did not have one of the characteristics listed above, as long as they believed or perceived that they did. California Penal Code 422.55. Therefore, it is very likely that the second requirement of a hate crime would be present to this situation.
Next, we will look at the significance to the charge of the hate crime the suspect will be facing. The enhancement of punishment relies much on the underlying criminal charge. In relations to this case, it is likely that the suspect would have a felony hate crime charge because he used the bamboo on the victim’s head. If it is a felony hate crime charge the suspect could face anywhere from sixteen months to three years longer in prison. Plus, a fine up to then thousand dollars. The prosecution can use discretion in determining what punishment to pursue, thus it is possible in some case they charge a misdemeanor hate crime if the underlying crime was a misdemeanor. This is known as a “wobbler” because it can go either way. Thus, the suspect, in this case, may receive three years in prison if he is charged with the hate crime.
Lastly, we will look at any possible defenses the suspect may have available for a hate crime charge. The first defense is the possibility of not being guilty of the underlying crime. The second would the crime was not motivated by a bias. The third would be the words were protected by the First Amendment. The last defense would be that these are false accusations. Thus, there are some possibilities of defenses to a hate crime charge.
The first being the suspect is not guilty of the underlying crime. Here, the best way to use this would be to the suspect was acting in self-defense. If the suspect was the original victim and he had to protect himself then he would not have fully completed a battery. This would be somewhat hard to do. We are given limited facts, but it does state the suspect used a bamboo stick on the victim when he was down. This does not negate the defense because it is possible the suspect did not use the bamboo as the victim stated or at all. Or that the bamboo was a reasonable use of force so that he could protect himself. Thus, there may be a possibility of this defense working for the suspect.
The second defense that the crime was not motivated by a bias. This defense seems as if it would be a stretch with the limited number of facts given to use. However, if the suspect could show that he was not motivated by the fact the victim was an African American then the hate crime could be dropped. But this would be difficult to convince a jury of because the fact the suspect addressed the victims race before and during the altercation. However, when all the facts and circumstances are present there may something to show the strength of this defense being applicable to the suspect.
The third being in relation to the First Amendment. This would not be applicable to the suspect in this case because he was violent and maybe even committed a criminal act. If he was just stating what he believed in a non-threating or violent matter this may be an appropriate defense to him.
The last defense discussed would be false allegations. Here, there may be another side to the story. It is possible that the suspect and victim got into an altercation and the victim now wants to bring charges against the suspect. Furthermore, it is possible the suspect said nothing about the victim’s race and that they just fight because of something else entirely. Depending on the suspect’s side of the story this defense could be completely applicable to this situation. The suspect may have even committed battery or battery with serious bodily injury but the hate crime is not present and thus, lessening his punishment.
In conclusion, with the limited facts given to us in the news article, it would seem as if the suspect here has a pretty strong case of a hate crime and other charges possible. It is possible with the hate crime the suspect may face up to three more years in prison. However, there may a couple of different defenses that may help him plead his case.
If you have questions regarding the details of your criminal case in San Diego, feel free to contact San Diego Criminal Attorney Vik Monder at 619-405-0063 or visit San Diego Criminal Lawyer .