Illinois Hate Crime Act
A person commits a hate crime when he/she commits a crime based on the actual or perceived
- national origin,
- sexual orientation,
- physical or mental disability, or
of another individual or group of individuals.
Offenses often charged as hate crimes include:
- assault (threats) and aggravated assault (threats using a weapon),
- battery (physical attack),
- criminal damage to property,
- trespass to residence or vehicle,
- telephone harassment,
- criminal sexual assault, and
Factors that contribute to a crime characterized as bias motivated include:
- language or symbols
- severity of attack
- previous incidents in the same area by the same offender
- lack of provocation by the victim
- absence of other motives (e.g. battery without robbery)
- offender's membership in a hate group
- timing of the crime (e.g. religious holiday)
Criminal Penalties for Committing a Hate Crime
Crimes motivated by hate result in stiffer penalties.
A hate crime is a Class 4 felony which carries a maximum prison sentence of three years, or seven years for a second or subsequent offense. If the judge does not order prison time, the statute requires the offender to serve a minimum of 200 hours of community service.
A hate crime victim can sue offenders in civil court for physical and emotional injuries and punitive damages. The victim may be able to bring a civil lawsuit even if the offender was never charged with a crime.
Federal Hate Crime Legislation
- The Hate Crimes Statistics Act of 1990 requires the Department of Justice to compile data on hate crimes and publish an annual summary.
- The Church Arson Prevention Act of 1996 (pdf) oversees the investigation and prosecution of places of worship.
- The Hate Crimes Right to Know Act requires college and university law enforcement agencies to collect and report all crimes on campus by categories of prejudice. Previously, colleges and universities were only required to report hate crimes that resulted in murder or were perpetrated by rape or aggravated assault. Campus law enforcement agencies are also required to develop a strategic plan for preventing and addressing the incidence of hate crimes on campus.
- The Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 1999 makes hate crimes based on race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender and disability prosecutable under federal law.
- The Hate Crimes Sentencing Act (pdf) provides for longer sentences where the offense is determined to be a hate crime. A longer sentence may be imposed if it is proven that a crime against person or property was motivated by race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual orientation. Enhanced penalty applies only to federal crimes.
Hate Crime Legislation by State
To compare hate crime statutory provisions by state, visit www.adl.org/99hatecrime/provisions.asp.