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Hate Crime Laws (PC 422.6/PC 422.7) in California

California Penal Code 422.6/California Penal Code 422.7: Hate Crimes

Hate Crimes are an enhancement under PC 422. A Hate Crime is a crime that is committed by you while motivated to commit the crime by hate towards the victim because of the victim’s race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender, or nationality. A hate crime allegation is an enhancement to another crime.

For a person to be convicted of a violation of PC 422.6/422.7, the prosecution must prove the following:

1. You willfully interfered with, injured, or intimidated, the victim’s right or privilege that is established by law;

2. You did so because of the victim’s gender, race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, disability, or sexual orientation; 


3. You intended to interfere with the victim’s legally protected right or injure the person or property of the victim.

PC 422.6(a): No person, whether or not acting under color of law, shall by force or threat of force, willfully injure, intimidate, interfere with, oppress, or threaten any other person in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him or her by the Constitution or laws of this state or by the Constitution or laws of the United States in whole or in part because of one or more of the actual or perceived characteristics of the victim.

What does this mean?

It does not matter if the person you were attacking was not a member of one of the protected groups, so long as you truly believed they were when you attacked them. However, if the person you attack is gay, or a different race than you, it’s not a hate crime unless the prosecution can show your attack was motivated based on a hatred of that group the victim belongs to. It isn’t the fact that they are gay, but that you attacked them because they are, that creates a hate crime. 

The protected groups are: Gender, as used here, means sex and includes a person’s gender identity and gender-related appearance and behavior whether or not stereotypically associated with the person’s assigned sex at birth. Nationality includes citizenship, country of origin, and national origin. Race or ethnicity includes ancestry, color, and ethnic background. Religion, as used here, includes all aspects of religious belief, observance, and practice and includes agnosticism and atheism. Sexual orientation means heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality.

When the section talks about violating a person’s right or privilege as established by law, that means that because of your hate crime, the person is unable to attend school, vote, or do some other right they are guaranteed by law.


A hate crime enhancement charge is a wobbler offense, meaning it may be filed as a misdemeanor or as a felony. Whether or not the prosecutor files misdemeanor or felony hate crimes enhancement depends largely on the facts of the case and the defendant’s criminal history. 

Under PC 422.6, this enhancement for interference with any person’s Civil Right, is a misdemeanor only, with a maximum exposure of up to 180 days in County Jail, to be served at 50%.

Under PC 422.7 this is a hate crime enhancement that is a wobbler offense, meaning it may be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. If found guilty under PC 422.7 as a felony you may face upwards of 16 months, two or three years in State prison; this prison time is in addition to any possible jail time for any underlying crime such as battery, assault, etc. PC 422.7 as a misdemeanor, you may face up to one year in the county jail; again, this is in addition to any punishment levied against you for the underlying crime. This is not a strike offense under the Three Strikes Law.

Common Defenses

  1. Statute of Limitations
  2. Insufficient Evidence
  3. Self-Defense
  4. Violation of your Rights

Because this is an enhancement, the way you defend this best is to show that the attack or underlying offense, was not motivated by a hate crime. Sometimes things are happenstance, meaning that a person in this circumstance may just happen to be gay, of a different race, or even a transexual, but that was not your motivation for your crime against them. It can be shown pretty easily if, during your attack, you are yelling slurs at the other party, but if you simply attack a person, it would be hard for a prosecutor to show your motivation.

Call Today

Facing charges involving Hate Crimes under PC 422.7 can be a daunting and complex experience, given the significant legal implications and the potential for enhanced sentences. These charges require a nuanced defense strategy, where understanding the intricacies of the law and its application is crucial.

At Inland Empire Criminal Defense, our team comprises highly experienced attorneys specializing in defending cases involving Hate Crimes under PC 422.7. We recognize the critical nature of these charges and the profound impact they can have on your life. Our approach is to thoroughly analyze the specifics of your case, ensuring your rights are vigorously defended.

One key aspect of our defense strategy involves effectively communicating to prosecutors that the alleged offense was not motivated by hate or bias towards any protected group. Clarifying the intent and context of the incident is often vital in these cases.

We are committed to providing you with reliable legal counsel and robust representation. You can trust us to guide you through every step of this challenging journey with professionalism and dedication.

For a free initial consultation, and to have any of your questions answered, please contact Inland Empire Criminal Defense at 909-939-7126. Our office is conveniently located in Ontario, CA, and we are prepared to assist you 24/7 in navigating your case with confidence and expertise.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Yes, understanding the financial pressures that can come with legal representation, our attorney offers flexible payment plans. This approach ensures that quality legal defense is accessible for all our clients in Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles Counties.

Yes, Inland Empire Criminal Defense offers free consultations. This is part of our commitment to providing accessible and transparent legal services to residents of Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles Counties.

We offer both in-person and over-the-phone consultations to accommodate your preferences and needs. Whether you’re in Riverside, San Bernardino, or Los Angeles County, we ensure that you can access our legal services in the way that suits you best.

Our office is typically closed on weekends. However, we do make exceptions for meetings by special arrangement. Our commitment is to be as accommodating as possible to meet the unique needs of our clients in Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles Counties.

Our legal services are specifically tailored to residents of Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles Counties. For cases outside these areas, we recommend consulting to find appropriate legal assistance. Our focused approach allows us to provide specialized defense catering to the unique legal landscape of these counties.

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