Jun 4

An Illinois man faces charges for hate crimes and other felonies after driving his motorcycle into a protest in Bloomington, according to an article by The Pantagraph

On Sunday, May 31st, protestors gathered in downtown Bloomington to protest the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. That is when the Illinois man allegedly drove his motorcycle into the crowd at excessive speed. After hitting two protestors, the Illinois man fled the scene. 

As a result of this incident, the Illinois man faces 17 counts of various criminal charges, eight of which are hate crimes. The collision in question occurred within 1,000 feet of a local school, which led to additional hate crime charges. 

At this point, the Illinois man declined to post bail and remains in police custody at the McLean County jail. While the legal process continues to play out, it seems appropriate to review Illinois laws against and penalties for hate crimes. 

What is the Definition of a Hate Crime in Illinois?

720 ILCS 5/12-7.1 establishes the Illinois definition of a hate crime. There are two elements to this offense under Illinois law. First, the perpetrator must choose their victim(s) on the basis of actual or perceived:

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

Second, the perpetrator must also commit:

  • Assault;
  • Aggravated assault;
  • Battery;
  • Intimidation;
  • Stalking;
  • Cyberstalking;
  • Misdemeanor theft;
  • Criminal trespass to residence, vehicle, or real property;
  • Misdemeanor criminal damage to property;
  • Mob action;
  • Disorderly conduct;
  • Transmission of obscene messages;
  • Harassment by telephone; or 
  • Harassment through electronic communications.

What is the Illinois Punishment for Hate Crimes?

Section 12-7.1 also provides the Illinois punishment for hate crimes. Any person who commits a first-offense hate crime will face Class 4 felony charges. If convicted at that level, the Illinois punishment includes one to three years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines. 

However, it is a Class 3 felony to commit a first-offense hate crime at or near a school, place of worship, public property, or similar location. If convicted at that level, the Illinois punishment includes two to five years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.

Furthermore, any person who violates Section 12-7.1 a second or subsequent will face Class 2 felony charges. If convicted at that level, the Illinois punishment includes three to seven years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.

Do You Need Legal Help?

No matter what the criminal offense, all charges are serious. A sound strategy and an aggressive defense are essential for a positive outcome. To protect your rights in such situations, it is highly advisable to retain legal counsel from an experienced criminal defense attorney.

The Prior Law Firm in Bloomington, Illinois, has proven experience in matters of criminal defense. If you need legal help with criminal defense, contact us today for a free consultation. You can reach The Prior Law Firm by phone at (309) 827-4300, email at johnprior@thepriorlawfirm.com or by completing an online form.