Facing any kind of criminal charges in Illinois is extremely stressful. When you are facing charges that would ordinarily be classified as misdemeanors but have been elevated to felony charges under Illinois’s hate crimes law, it is more important than ever to hire an experienced Chicago criminal defense attorney who can assess the specific facts of your case and can develop the strongest possible defense strategy to help you beat these charges. In the meantime, the following are three things to know about hate crimes in Illinois.
Hate Crimes are a Class 4 Felony for a First Offense
Generally speaking, under Illinois law, a hate crime will be charged as a Class 4 felony for a first offense, and a Class 2 felony for a second or subsequent offense. There are situations in which a first offense can be charged as a more severe felony, which we will explain in more detail below. A Class 4 felony can result in a prison sentence of up to three years and a fine of up to $25,000. For a second or subsequent offense, a person convicted of a hate crime can face a sentence of seven years in prison (and sometimes more depending upon the circumstances) and a fine of up to $25,000.
Many Types of Criminal Offenses May be Charged as Hate Crimes When There is Actual or Perceived Bias
A person can be charged with a hate crime if they commit an offense that might otherwise be charged as a misdemeanor (such as assault, battery, or disorderly conduct, among other offenses) if the offense is committed because of actual or perceived race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, or national origin.
Hate Crimes Committed in Certain Places can be Charged as More Severe Felonies
A hate crime will be charged as a Class 3 felony for a first offense (as opposed to a lesser Class 4 felony for a first offense) if the crime is committed in certain places, such as a place of worship (e.g., a synagogue, mosque, or church), in a cemetery or other place memorializing the dead, in a school, in a public park, or in an ethnic or religious community center.
Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Illinois
Whether you are facing hate crime charges in Chicago or elsewhere in Illinois, you should not wait any longer to hire an experienced and aggressive Chicago criminal defense attorney who can help with your case. As we explained above, certain criminal offenses that may be low-level misdemeanors under different circumstances can be elevated to hate crimes when law enforcement officials believe there is evidence to show that the crime was committed for reasons based on certain biases.
To reiterate, if you are facing any kind of hate crime charge, you are likely looking at a felony offense and need a defense lawyer to help you fight these charges. Contact the Law Offices of Jonathan Minkus to learn more about how we can assist with your defense.