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Under Penal Code Section 422.55, California hate crimes are criminal acts or attempted criminal acts committed against an individual or group based upon race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sexual orientation, gender or a disability. A hate crime in California can be charged as a felony under Penal Codes Sections 422.7, 594.3. 11412 or 11413 or a misdemeanor under Penal Code Sections 302, 422.6, 422.9, 538 (c), 640.2 or 11411. Under Penal Code Section 422.6 (a) or (b), any person convicted of violating this Section faces up to one year in county jail or a fine not to exceed $5,000 or both, and community service not to exceed 400 hours during 350 days during a time other than employment hours or school hours. No person may be convicted of a California hate crime for using hateful speech alone.

The death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole can be imposed under Penal Code Section 190.2(a)(16) if the victim was intentionally killed because of race, color, religion, nationality, or country of origin. Life without the possibility of parole may be imposed under Penal Code 190.3, if the victim was intentionally killed because of sexual orientation, gender or disability. Under Penal Code 422.75, sentences may be enhanced for a felony crime committed as a result of a victim's race, color, religion, nationality, country of origin, ancestry, disability or sexual orientation an additional one, two or three years in prison if a person acts alone and two, three or four years in prison if a person acts with another.

Case Example:

A 53 year old women named Kim Rebar Henry of Fullerton, CA was arrested on arrested Friday February 11, 2011 on an unrelated warrant and booked on Monday, February 14, 2011, on suspicion of one count of felony vandalism and damage to property to violate civic rights. Henry is believed to be responsible for nine incidents that occurred in Anaheim, Irvine, Santa Ana and Brea. She is being held at the Orange County Jail in lieu of $67,500 bail. According to authorities, Henry allegedly spray-painted graffiti on two Catholic churches and several buildings in Orange County. A surveillance video that was released to the media resulted in a person calling Santa Ana Police department and identifying Henry. The graffiti found was painted in black paint and threatened to kill African Americans and Asians. Graffiti was also discovered on a walkway next to the Saint Thomas More Catholic Parish by Irvine Police on January 11, 2011with the words painted "Kill Cathlicks". Irvine police also found graffiti at the Chase Bank on the 500 block of North Euclid that said kill and two specific ethnicities. Anaheim police responded to a graffiti incident also on January 11, 2011 at the St. Boniface Catholic Church where the words "Kill the Cathlicks" was painted at a wall near the entrance of the church. Investigations by Anaheim, Santa Ana, Irvine and Brea police are ongoing.

If you are arrested and charged with a California hate crime, you should contact a California criminal defense attorney to represent you. The attorney may be able to get the charges reduced or dismissed by arguing such legal defenses as aggravated battery, mistaken identity, self defense or false accusations depending upon the circumstances surrounding your case.

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