Josia Biewer is facing hate crime charges for vandalizing both public and private property with racially inflammatory graffiti in Arlington Heights. Biewer, who is 20 years old, will face seven felony counts of criminal damage to property and hate crimes.
Once the racist graffiti began to pile up, police began patrolling areas where it was found. At 2 a.m., police noticed a suspicious vehicle. Police searched the area and discovered Josia Biewer attempting to get into the car. The vehicle sped off without its headlights on, but police were able to track down Biewer who later admitted to defacing the property.
Understanding Hate Crimes in Illinois
Hate crime is defined in 720 ILCS 5/12-7.1. The one factor that must be proven is that the crime committed was based on a bias of some kind. This includes a bias based on race, religion, sexual orientation, gender expression, disability, or gender. Since the Supreme Court has recently ruled that gender-based protections of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act apply to sexual orientation and gender expression, these protections are now the law of the land in all 50 states.
There is a long list of crimes that qualify for a hate crime charge. These include:
- assault, battery, aggravated assault,
- intimidation, stalking, cyberstalking,
- misdemeanor theft,
- criminal trespass to residence,
- misdemeanor criminal damage to property,
- criminal trespass to vehicle,
- criminal trespass to real property,
- mob action,
- disorderly conduct,
- transmission of obscene messages,
- harassment by telephone,
- or harassment through electronic communications
While the charges of criminal damage to property are classified as misdemeanors, a hate crime is classified as a class-4 felony. In Illinois, the minimum sentence for a class-4 felony is one year. A defendant could face a maximum of four years, and that is for each individual offense.
Since Biewer is charged with seven counts, that is a minimum of seven years plus whatever charges he faces for property damage.
If the hate crime is a first offense, the judge has some discretion when it comes to issuing prison time. However, the defendant would face a minimum of 200 hours of community service and be required to enroll in a seminar discussing the status of the victim and hate crimes in general.
What Will Happen to This Defendant?
Nothing good. The prosecuting attorney may not be able to convict on every count, but Biewer still faces a mandatory minimum of one year. If he is let off without prison time, he will likely be required to make restitution to the victims. This includes paying for any damage he did to their property.
Since the defendant has already admitted to spray-painting the graffiti and the graffiti was racially inflammatory, the prosecution has all the leverage. The elements of their case have already been proven. Having a lawyer with him during the interrogation may have protected him from admitting to this in front of police, but we will never know.
Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with a serious crime in Cook County, David Freidberg can help protect your interests and your defense. Call us early in the process at (312) 560-7100, so we can begin your defense immediately.