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Increased Punishments for California Hate Crimes

Increased Penalties for Hate Crimes in California

California’s Assembly Bill 2282 increases penalties for the display of hate symbols that are placed “for the purpose of terrorizing a person”. The bill criminalizes the Nazi swastika (with explicit protection of the Buddhist, Hindu, and Jainist swastikas with history as a peace symbol), the display of a noose, the burning and/or destruction of a cross or other religious symbol, and “a sign, mark, symbol, emblem, or other physical impression including but not limited to a Nazi swastika” on another’s private property.

Under this law, the one who displays the hate symbol can be criminalized if:

  • The symbol is displayed on the private property of another, a school, a college campus, a cemetery, a public place, a place of worship, or someone else’s employment location
  • The symbol is displayed without the consent of the owner(s) of the property
  • The symbol is displayed with the intention to terrorize someone who is at the property the hate symbol is displayed at, or the symbol is displayed with egregious negligence of the fact that someone could be intimidated by the symbol. Terrorize in this context means “to cause a person of ordinary emotions and sensibility to fear for personal safety”

The punishment for first-time offenders can be imprisonment for 16 months to 2-3 years and/or a fine of no more than $10000. The alternative is a sentence to a county jail of no more than a year and/or a fine of $5000.

For repeat offenders, the punishment can be imprisonment for 16 months to 2-3 years, and/or a fine of no more than $15000. The alternative is a sentence to county jail of no more than a year and/or a fine of $10000.

The provisions of the crime are severable, so if one charge is unenforceable, the rest of the bill can stand.

No reimbursement of costs is required by the defendant unless the display of the hate symbol leads to another crime. Therefore, burning a cross in one’s neighborhood can only require reimbursement for the victim if, for instance, the fire burns down their garden and the defendant is charged with a crime such as destruction of property or arson. The crime of displaying a hate symbol does not incur a reimbursement charge on its own.

If you or someone close to you has been charged with a hate crime, exercise your right to remain silent.  Ask to speak to a lawyer. Call an experienced criminal defense lawyer before it’s too late.

Jeffrey Vallens (818) 783-5700 email: