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Hate Crimes in Illinois


The recent attacks against Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community thorough out the United States have brought hate crimes back into the spotlight. A hate crime is defined as a violent offense committed against another person based on the individual’s race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or disability. 

Common crimes associated with hate crimes include: 

  • Assault or aggravated assault 

  • Battery or aggravated battery 

  • Theft 

  • Vandalism 

  • Harassment 

  • Intimidation 

  • Stalking 

  • Trespassing 

In Illinois, the hate crime law also includes technology-based attacks, such as cyberstalking and sending obscene electronic messages. In addition, victims may file a separate civil lawsuit against the offender. 

In order to be convicted of a hate crime, the prosecution must prove that (1) the defendant committed a violent or criminal underlying offense and (2) the crime was motivated by hate against another individual’s personal or group identity. Since meeting the second element is a high burden for the court to prove, the prosecution will often rely on witness testimony or other evidence of hate-based intention. 

When it comes to hate crime penalties, a first offense is considered a Class 4 felony, which carries a maximum prison sentence of up to three years and a fine of up to $25,000.  

If the hate crime occurred within 1,000 feet of a place of worship, ethnic community center, school, public park or cemetery, then the hate crime is a Class 3 felony, punishable by imprisonment for up to five years and a maximum fine of $25,000.  

A second or subsequent offense is a Class 2 felony, punishable by imprisonment for up to seven years and a maximum fine of $25,000. 

However, a hate crime also can also be charged as a federal crime. A conviction for a federal bias-motivated offense carries a federal prison sentence of at least ten years. 

If you or a loved one has been accused of a hate crime in Chicago, contact the Law Office of Steven Fine today at (312) 436-0638 for a free initial consultation and discuss your case.