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Archive for the ‘hate crime’ tag

Illinois’ Hate Crime Law

July 8th, 2015 at 2:36 pm

Illinois defence attorney, Illinois criminal lawyer, felony crimes,In the wake of the tragedy in Charleston, S.C., there has been a great deal of public discourse about the reasons why people commit violent crimes. Those of us who handle these cases understand that a whole host of sociological, psychological, and physical factors come in to play and that in some cases it is simply impossible to know why these things happen. There is certainly some evidence that the shooter in the Charleston case may have been motivated by racism. But it is impossible for us to know if that was this young man’s exclusive motivation, and we will not understand his true mental state unless and until he undergoes psychiatric evaluation.

When race, or some other sensitive characteristic, such as gender or religion, plays a role in a crime, it often gets called a hate crime. Hate crimes have a very specific definition under the law, and it is important to understand exactly what a hate crime is.

What Is a Hate Crime in Illinois?

In Illinois, hate crimes are defined by statute. Under Illinois law a person commits a hate crime if, “by reason of the actual or perceived race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, gender, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, or national origin” of a person or group of people that person commits one of the following crimes:

  • Assault;
  • Battery;
  • Aggravated assault;
  • Misdemeanor theft;
  • Criminal trespass to residence;
  • Misdemeanor criminal damage to property;
  • Criminal trespass to vehicle;
  • Criminal trespass to real property;
  • Mob action;
  • Disorderly conduct;
  • Harassment by telephone; or
  • Harassment through electronic communications.

Of course, there are some obvious hate crimes missing from this statute. This statute takes crimes that would otherwise be relatively minor, and turns them into serious felony offenses because of the defendant’s motive. It is important to note that extremely serious felonies like murder and rape are not included on the list. Perhaps this is because of the harsh sentences that already result from those offenses. However, while murder itself cannot qualify as a hate crime in Illinois, a person could be charged with both murder and a hate crime at the same time.

For example, imagine the defendant who is accused of murdering someone and in the course of the crime he or she also breaks some of that person’s property, and he or she is motivated by one of the protected characteristics when he or she does so. That person could be charged with and convicted of both murder and a hate crime. It is important to understand that the federal government also has its own hate crime laws, so if a person is charged in federal court, those laws, not the Illinois law, would apply.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

If you are facing criminal charges then you have many important decisions to make. Perhaps the most important decision you will make will be when you choose a skilled Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney. Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley. We have the experience and the tenacity to handle your situation the way it should be handled. Call us today at (847)394-3200.

Breaking Badly: Criminal Damage to Property

March 4th, 2015 at 9:26 am

Illinois criminal defense attorney, Illinois defense lawyer, vandalism,We all know that if we break or destroy something that belongs to another person we are likely on the hook for the costs of replacing or repairing what we damaged. What some people do not realize until they find themselves in need of a criminal defense lawyer is that breaking the property of another is often a crime that can carry jail time.

Criminal Damage to Property

Illinois statute creates the offense of criminal damage to property. There are nine different ways a person can commit this offense. They include:

  1. Knowingly damaging another person’s property without the owner’s consent;
  2. Recklessly damaging another person’s property with fire or explosives;
  3. Knowingly starting a fire on someone else’s land without the owner’s consent;
  4. Knowingly injuring another person’s domestic animal without the owner’s consent;
  5. Knowingly depositing a stink bomb or similar smelly substance on someone else’s land or building to interfere with the use of the building or land without the owner’s consent;
  6. Knowingly damaging certain types of property to defraud an insurance company;
  7. Knowingly shooting a firearm at a train;
  8. Knowingly tampering with a fire hydrant or fire fighting equipment; and
  9. Intentionally opening a fire hydrant without proper permission.

Criminal Damage to Government Supported Property

Under Illinois law, government supported property is property supported at least in part by government funding. It is a crime to:

  1. Knowingly damage government supported property without the state’s consent;
  2. Knowingly damage government property with an explosive or fire;
  3. Start a fire on government supported property without the state’ s consent; and
  4. Knowingly use a stink bomb or similar item on government supported property without the state’s consent to interfere with the use of the property.

While many types of regular criminal damage to property can be misdemeanors if the amount of the damages is not too great, all types of damage to government supported property are felonies. The class of felony depends upon the cost of the damage done. If the damage to the property is more than $10,000 the offender will also face a fine in an amount equal to the value of the damage to the property.

Institutional Vandalism

A person commits institutional vandalism when he or she damages one of certain types of properties at least in part because of the actual or perceived race, creed, religion, or national origin of another person or group of people. It may be considered a “hate crime” version of property damage. The properties covered by this statute include:

  1. Places of religious worship or personal property contained therein;
  2. Cemeteries or other places used for burying or memorializing the dead or personal property contained therein;
  3. Schools, educational centers, and community centers or personal property contained therein; and
  4. The grounds adjacent to any of the above three places.

Even if the damage done is only valued at costing one cent, institutional vandalism is at least a Class 3 felony. If the value of the damaged property exceeds $300 or if the offender has a prior conviction for this type of offense, it is a Class 2 felony.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

If you are facing property damage charges, or are charged with some other crime, you need help. You should call the law offices of experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney Christopher M. Cosley. Our phone number is (847) 394-3200.

College Student Convicted of Hate Crime

June 14th, 2012 at 2:06 pm

An Elmhurst College student has been convicted on charges that he carved racial epithets into the window sill of another student’s dorm room. Myles Burton, 21, had been arrested and charged in December with a felony hate crime connected to the property damage. He was indicted by a grand jury in January.

According to a report in Patch, Burton, from Libertyville, is accused of carving the words “KKK,” “Negro” and “I hate black people” into the stone window sill of the school’s only African-American dorm supervisor. He was found guilty after a two hour bench trial. Prosecutors told the court that Burton was intoxicated and angry when he committed the crime.

Burton told police that he was angry at his basketball coach for calling him a ‘racist’ and only vandalized the building to show “what a real racist does”. In a recorded police interview, he admitted that he knew that those words would be frightening to any black person. It was that interview that the judge cited when handing down his verdict. Burton’s attorney had tried arguing that Burton didn’t know the home he was damaging belonged to an African-American.

The Daily Herald reported that the incident was recorded on security cameras and showed Burton using a rock to carve the epitaphs. Two other students, Samuel Ficker and Michael McCurdy, were also identified as being present and were charged with misdemeanors.

The female victim, 28, testified during the trial how she discovered the vandalism. “I was taken aback because I never saw anything like that before,” she said. “I was immediately afraid. I was raised in Mississippi, and I am very aware of what the KKK means and symbolizes.”

Burtonis scheduled for sentencing on June 19. He faces up to five years in prison.

Depending on the circumstances, an accusation of vandalism can escalate into much more serious charges. If you are arrested and charged with a crime, you need an experienced attorney to represent your rights in court. Contact a qualified Cook County criminal defense lawyer today!

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