Hate Crimes in Washington On the Rise
by Lewis & Laws
Hate Crimes in Washington On the Rise
Hate crimes in Washington are unfortunately more common than many people realize. In Washington, hate crimes have risen 78 percent from 2013 to 2017. According to the FBI, Washington had the fourth-highest number of reported hate crime incidents in the country.
In recent months there has been a slew of hate crimes reported from Bellingham to Seattle. These crimes range in severity. However, they all have one thing in common: targeting a victim because of their perceived race, religion, gender, or sexuality.
In December, a 22-year-old man was charged with assault and a hate crime. He was accused of choking a Sikh Uber driver, calling him derogatory names, and making fun of his turban. The Uber driver was allegedly called to an apartment complex on Barkley Boulevard, where he picked up the 22-year-old. He drove him to get fast food and cigarettes before returning him to his apartment complex. When they arrived, the passenger began physically and verbally assaulting the driver. He grabbed him by the throat, choked him, and made derogatory remarks about his dark skin, turban, and Indian origins. The passenger has been charged with second-degree assault and malicious harassment.
Earlier that same month, a legally blind transgender woman was attacked in the Seattle suburb of Tukwila. She was chased off the bus by several juvenile males who assaulted her. Cellphone video from witnesses showed the woman lying on the ground motionless while being punched and stomped repeatedly by the young men. They hurled offensive slurs at her while they were beating her. The suspects were arrested and booked for investigation of assault and malicious harassment.
When is a Crime a Hate Crime?
For a hate crime to occur, the victim must have been harassed or attacked because of specific personal characteristics or perceived personal characteristics.
Essentially, any crime can become a hate crime, if the crime was perpetrated because of prejudice or hostility based on:
- Sexual orientation or gender identity - hate crimes against LGBTQ people are on the rise, and in 2018, 1 in 5 hate crimes were committed against LGBTQ people.
- Religion - in nearly 21 percent of all hate crimes, victims were targeted because of their religion.
- Race - more than half of all hate crimes were committed because of the victim’s race, ethnicity, or ancestry.
- Disability - disabled individuals were the victims in nearly 2 percent of all hate crimes.
Malicious Harassment is Washington’s Hate Crime Law
Malicious harassment in Washington is a crime that is added to additional charges, such as assault. If the prosecution believes that you were motivated by personal bias or bigotry, they will charge you with Malicious Harassment. This law is defined in RCW 9A.36.080.
If you are convicted of Malicious Harassment, it is a Class C Felony offense. In Washington, Class C Felony Offenses are punishable by up to five years in state prison and fines up to $10,000. This is in addition to whatever additional charges you face. There are no lesser penalties for hate crimes in Washington. That means, if you are convicted of a hate crime, it will mean a felony conviction on your record for life.
Getting Help From Seattle Criminal Defense Attorneys at Lewis & Laws, PLLC
If you are charged with a hate crime in Seattle, it is important to understand the severity of these charges. Your entire future could be at stake if you are convicted of a hate crime. That is why it is so important to fight these charges aggressively from the start. Contact an experienced Seattle criminal defense lawyer immediately if you are arrested and suspected of a hate crime. The experienced lawyers at Lewis & Laws, PLLC, have successfully defended clients in Seattle, Bellevue, and Kirkland. Contact us today at 206.209.0608 or fill out our online contact form.