Articles Tagged with hate crime

Hilulaohaio-225x300Chicago has sought to deal with the increasing problem of hate crime using legislative means. The provisions of the Illinois Hate Crime Act (IHCA), 720 ILCS 5/12-7.1, are the leading authority on the management of the criminal process. The act creates an imperative on the state to prosecute but does not explicitly remove the opportunity for private civil cases to take place. Many victims take the opportunity to sue for damages, even when the aggressor is a public authority or their representatives. The range of options for the court includes actual damages, punitive damages, and additional costs, including attorney fees. At other times, the court may offer injunctive relief in order to stop the offending behavior from happening.

The criteria for what constitutes a hate crime can be fluid and those who offend have often used the ambiguity of definitions in order to attempt a get-out-clause for their behavior. Typically, they will claim that this is a case of freedom of speech, which is constitutionally guaranteed. For those who actually go on to commit acts of violence, the case is much simpler since the prosecutor can go for the assault line of questioning and later prove that hate-inspired motives were at play. A crime becomes a hate crime when it is motivated by perceived creed, race, color, gender, ancestry, religion, sexual orientation, disability, nationality and even membership of a particular group. Bigotry is at the heart of this crime and will be part of the Mens Rea during the prosecution.

The Importance of the Motivating Factors

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Last month, African American teenager Paul O’Neal was killed when a Chicago police officer shot him in the back during a controversial arrest. This shooting has outraged the African American community in Chicago and has worsened the already strained relationship between the police and the community. In fact, Fox News reports that three Chicago gangs are plotting to shoot police officers in retaliation. Apparently the Chicago Police Department (CPD) alerted its officers last week that three local gangs, the Vice Lords, the Black Disciples, and the Four Corner Hustlers, met in order to exchange guns and discuss plans to shoot CDP officers.  

Penalties for Killing, Harming, or Intimidating a Police Officer

Under federal law 18 U.S.C. § 1121, it is a capital offense to intentionally kill a state or local law enforcement officer or employee, who is working with federal law enforcement officials during a criminal investigation,:

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Hate crimes, sometimes referred to as a bias-motivated crimes, occur when a perpetrator selects his or her victim based on a perceived membership to a certain social group. For example, if a perpetrator shoots a victim because of the victim’s sex, ethnicity, religion, or sexual identity, then a hate crime has likely occurred. I say likely because the only way to know for sure if a crime qualifies as a hate crime is to check which social groups are protected under the hate crime statute that governs the situation. For instance, if the crime is governed by federal law, then the federal hate crime statute applies. Under the federal hate crime statute, social groups based on race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability are protected. States, and even some cities, also have their own hate crime laws.

Chicago’s Hate Crime Law

According to Chicagoist.com, Chicago’s current hate crime law applies when a victim is targeted based on race, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, prior or active military status, ancestry, or age. In other words, if it can be shown that a defendant’s hate motive against one of these protected groups caused him or her to commit a crime against a member of that group (for example, assault, murder, or harassment) then the defendant can be charged with a hate crime violation in Chicago.