Hate crimes are likely among the felony crimes that are the least accepted by society in general. The law reflects society’s condemnation of discrimination on the basis of certain characteristics by protecting these characteristics and making violent acts of discrimination illegal. Some of the characteristics that are protected by law are race, religion, cultural background, and sex. In many states, such as Illinois, sexual orientation is also a protected characteristic.
Hate crimes are violent acts against another person or entity based on a protected characteristic, such as race or religion. These felony crimes are seriously prosecuted in Illinois, and may lead to jail time and other consequences. A case from this week demonstrates how seriously authorities take hate crimes, even when the victim has not been seriously injured.
The Chicago Tribune reports that 27-year-old Cosovic Ahmmed was arrested on Tuesday of this week after accosting a mail carrier at a laundromat on North Keeler Avenue in Chicago. The mail carrier, who is of African-American descent, attempted to deliver mail to the business, but was confronted by Mr. Ahmmed who was standing outside. Mr. Ahmmed allegedly pushed the mail carrier’s mail cart, at which point the mail carrier advised him that the mail cart was government property and that he should not touch it. Mr. Ahmmed then allegedly called the mail carrier a racist slur, and then ordered his dog to attack him.
Police officers arrived at the scene after receiving a report about the altercation. When they arrived, Mr. Ahmmed was still standing outside and the mail carrier reported that he had been threatening him. Mr. Ahmmed denied any wrongdoing and said that he would not do anything further. However, once the officers left the scene, Mr. Ahmmed used another racial slur against the mail carrier, and told him that he hated African-Americans. A witness called the police again, and Mr. Ahmmed was arrested this time.
Ultimately, Mr. Ahmmed was charged with felony stalking, felony hate crime, and misdemeanor aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He was also given a citation for failing to have his dog licensed. Bail was set for Mr. Ahmmed at $100,000.
Under 720 ILCS 5/12-7.1, a person is guilty of a hate crime when he or she is motivated to commit a violent crime, act of trespass, or harassment, or mob action or disorderly conduct, based on another person’s actual or perceived race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, gender, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, or national origin. A hate crime is a Class 4 felony offense for the first conviction, while subsequent convictions are Class 2 felonies. Hate crimes are Class 3 felonies for the first offense if committed in a specific place, such as a cemetery, church or mosque, or school. It is important to note than in addition to potential jail time and other consequences, the hate crime statute provides for restitution to the victim or a fine of up to $1,000, and any order of probation must include community service. The statute expressly gives victims the right to commence a civil suit against the offender.
If you have been charged with violating Illinois criminal laws, you should immediately seek out the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact an attorney at Goldman & Associates today for a confidential consultation.