Facing Charges Under Illinois Hate Crime Statute

In 2018, Illinois lawmakers expanded the state’s hate crimes statute to include cyberstalking, certain acts of intimidation, and transmission of obscene messages. One of the other significant changes to that law was that it also granted the Attorney General’s office civil enforcement authority. For the first time since those changes, the AG’s office has announced it has filed a lawsuit against an Illinois mother and son for engaging in a campaign of hate crimes against their neighbor.

The Case Against a Mother and Son

According to the statement released by Attorney General Kwame Raoul, the alleged acts by the mother and son began in July 2020. The alleged victim notified police that his fence was damaged by the mother who had threatened to tear it down. The victim again notified police when he saw the son intentionally spray weed killer on his lawn, which damaged all the grass. Police charged the son with misdemeanor criminal offense for the property damage. That case is still pending.

In September 2020, the son was accused of painting swastikas on his garage which faces the victim’s home. Police were again called and the son was ordered to remove the swastikas. The pair are also accused of hanging a Confederate flag and a racial slur on one of their windows that also faces the victim’s home.

The following month, there was an effigy of the victim – who is black – hanging from a tree in the mother’s yard. The mother admitted to police that they had hung the effigy in an effort to target the victim. Her refusal to remove the effigy resulted in felony charges for intimidation of a witness. That case is also still pending. In the complaint, the AG’s office has included two counts each for disorderly conduct and intimidation as part of a hate crime, as well as unspecified relief.

Illinois Hate Crime Law

The state’s hate crime law shows just how serious Illinois takes allegations of hate crimes. All hate crimes are charged as felonies – even for a first offense – so penalties for a conviction can be substantial. A conviction could potentially mean a minimum of one year up to three years in state prison and fines of up to $25,000. Second or subsequent penalties are even more severe and include three to seven years in state prison.

Call a Will County Defense Attorney Today

If you have been accused of committing a hate crime, do not delay in contacting a Will County criminal defense lawyer. As mentioned above, there can be serious consequences that your freedom and your future if you are found guilty. Call the Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba, P.C. at 815-740-4025 to schedule a free consultation.