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Understanding Illinois Hate Crimes and Their ConsequencesIn the past couple of years, law enforcement officers and legislative officials have focused more attention on hate crimes. More time, energy and resources have been put into thorough investigations of hate crimes, and laws have been made even more strict than before. In Illinois, officials do not have a tolerance for hate crimes and often punish offenders to the fullest extent of the law. Though every situation is different, a hate crime committed in Illinois is charged as a felony offense, which means you face serious consequences if you are convicted. Dealing with accusations of a hate crime can be daunting, which is why retaining counsel from a skilled Illinois criminal defense attorney is crucial.

What is Hate Crime?

In simple terms, a hate crime occurs when a person commits a crime against another person or group of people because of that group or person’s perceived race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or physical or mental disability. Often, the type of actions that are committed against people in a hate crime is violent in nature and can include crimes such as:

  • Assault or aggravated assault
  • Battery or aggravated battery
  • Intimidation
  • Stalking
  • Theft
  • Criminal trespassing
  • Criminal damage to property
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Harassment through electronic transmission

Illinois Sees Rise in Hate Crimes, Despite National Drop

Sadly, hate crimes are not uncommon in Illinois. In fact, Illinois saw an increase in the number of hate crimes that occurred between 2017 and 2018, while national statistics saw a slight decrease. Nationally, hate crimes dropped from 7,171 in 2017 to 7,120 in 2018. Illinois, however, saw an increase from 89 hate crimes committed in 2017 to 125 in 2018.

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violent crime, felony charges, unlawful use of a weapon, Orland Park criminal defense attorney, criminal convictionIf you are charged with a violent crime in Illinois, you have the right to a fair trial. On television legal dramas, you often see crusading prosecutors make powerful opening or closing arguments designed to sway a jury's emotions. In real courtrooms, however, prosecutors need to stick to the evidence. They are not ethically or constitutionally permitted to inflame the jury with prejudicial language.

Court Reverses Attempted Murder Convictions Following Prosecution Misconduct

For example, a prosecutor who repeatedly refers to a defendant as a “criminal” during opening arguments may violate that defendant's right to a fair trial. Indeed, an Illinois appeals court recently overturned the convictions of two co-defendants after a prosecutor did just that. The underlying criminal case involved three Chicago police officers who were shot and injured while attempting to execute a search warrant against one of the defendants.

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