Bill to Expand Hate Crimes Protections Passes Illinois General Assembly

Illinois defense lawyer, Illinios criminal attorney, violent crimes, A bill has passed in the Illinois General Assembly that would enhance protections under hate crimes legislation. It will add protections for transgender individuals and expand the definition of institutional vandalism. The bill passed both the House and the Senate without opposition, and awaits Gov. Bruce Rauner’s signature.

Current Law

In Illinois, a person commits a hate crime when he or she commits one of a list of crimes against another person because of one of several listed motivations, regardless of any other motivating factor. The crimes covered by Illinois’s hate crimes legislation are:

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

A hate crime is committed if a person commits one of the above crimes because of a person’s actual or perceived:

  •         Race;
  •         Color;
  •         Creed;
  •         Religion;
  •         Ancestry;
  •         Gender;
  •         Sexual orientation;
  •         Physical or mental disability; or
  •         National origin.

Hate crimes are felonies in Illinois. Heavier penalties apply for second and subsequent offenses, and if the crime was committed in a place such as a church, school, public park, or community center.

When a person is convicted of a hate crime, the court must also order either that the offender pay restitution to the victim or pay a fine of up to $1,000. Additionally, if an offender receives probation, a minimum of 200 hours of community service shall be imposed as a condition of probation. If the hate crime involved damage to religious fixtures or objects, probation must include a mandatory education program to discourage hate crimes.

The Bill

House Bill 3930 was sponsored by Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, Rep. Sam Yingling, D-Round Lake Beach, and Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Evanston. It expands the definition of “sexual orientation” used in the statute. The term formerly included heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual individuals. It now also covers a person’s gender identity. Though gender identity has not been listed in Illinois’s hate crimes legislation, hate crimes against transgender individuals have been prosecuted using the “sexual orientation” category. The bill codifies that expansion of the term.

The bill also increases protections for institutional vandalism. Institutional vandalism means intentionally damaging properties including churches, synagogues, mosques, cemeteries, schools, or personal property, because of a list of motivating factors. Currently, the motivations covered by the institutional vandalism statute are race, color, creed, religion, and national origin. The bill expands the list to include ancestry, gender, sexual orientation, and physical or mental disability.

Hate crimes carry more severe penalties than other offenses, and so it is important to have an experienced attorney to defend you. If you have been arrested for or charged with a hate crime, please contact the dedicated Naperville criminal defense attorneys at Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC to begin working on your case immediately.