A man with a criminal history has been charged with defacing a synagogue by painting swastikas on it. He has been charged with criminal damage and defacement and is facing four hate crime charges related to each swastika that he spray painted. Earlier in the day, police found evidence that someone damaged a different synagogue, and broke the windows of two businesses. It is unclear if the man charged with defacing the synagogue has also been charged in relation to these crimes, but the matter will be investigated further to track his movements throughout the day, so more charges could be forthcoming.
What is a hate crime?
The term “hate crime” refers to a specific class of crimes committed with a specific purpose in mind. The purpose is to enrage, belittle, or terrify someone from a protected minority. In this case, painting symbols associated with the systematic murder and genocide of a people shows the type of bias the government is looking for to prove a hate crime.
Hate crimes are prosecuted by both the federal and the state government of Illinois. Illinois expands upon extant hate crime statutes to include other crimes that apply to the statute. Typically, the federal government will pursue hate crime charges on the grounds of murder. It is important to understand that the federal government almost never prosecutes murder charges unless there is a federal statute that allows them to. In most cases, it is a violation of RICO statutes that permits the federal government to pursue these charges. Less likely is a prosecution under the Hobbes Act or related federal statutes. One other way to get yourself tried for murder by the federal government is to commit a murder that shows evidence of racial bias.
This is precisely what happened in the Ahmaud Arbery case. While the state of Georgia chose to try (and convict) all three participants of murder, the federal government also filed charges against the men on the grounds of a murder showing evidence of racial bias. The men will face these charges even though they have already been convicted in Georgia. The federal government could use these charges to ensure that the men never get out of prison again.
In this case, we only have vandalism and property damage charges. The defendant was not part of an organized conspiracy, so RICO does not apply. The defendant was also not interfering with interstate commerce, so the likelihood that the defendant would be charged under federal statutes is quite low. Most of those statutes are anti-organized crime statutes.
Hate crimes are considered class-four felonies in Illinois and are prosecuted as separate charges, not as an aggravating factor for existing charges.
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If you are facing serious criminal charges in the Chicago area, call Chicago criminal defense attorney David Freidberg today at (312) 560-7100 and we can begin planning your defense immediately.