Hate Crime Bill Passes Out of House Committee in GA House

People who commit crimes against certain classes of people would be subject to harsher punishments under a new hate crime bill that passed out of the Judiciary Non-civil committee in the Georgia House this week.

House Bill 426 is sponsored by State Representative Chuck Efstration and has the bipartisan support of Republicans Deborah Silcox and Ron Stephens and Democrats Calvin Smyre, Karen Bennett, and Karla Drenner.

The measure seeks to toughen punishments for crimes committed “because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, mental disability, or physical disability of such” by creating a new code section, OCGA 17-10-17.

The proposal does not adjust the punishments for any particular crime, but instead allows for a prosecutor to seek additional penalties on the front end of a case, which would require the judge to sentence different upon conviction. specifically, a judge would be required to impose the following penalties for persons convicted of crimes committed because of real or perceived bias:

  • Imprisonment for 3-12 months and a fine up to $5,000 for misdemeanor crimes
  • Imprisonment for 6-12 months and a fine up to $5,000 for a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature
  • Imprisonment of at least two years for felonies.

The judge would not be able to impose lesser penalties or use judicial discretion if the new law took effect and a it was determined a person committed a crime under one of the eight new classes. The prosecution, however, would be required to notify the defendant at the time of the indictment or accusation if hate crime enhanced penalties were to be sought, a notification requirement that is already part of the law under OCGA 17-10-18.

A similar bill passed out of the Senate and a House committee in 2018 but failed to make it to the House floor for a vote before the end of the legislative session.

Georgia is one of five states with no hate crime legislation, joining South Carolina, Arkansas, Wyoming, and Indiana. Opponents of hate crime legislation say the intent of a crime is sometimes difficult to prove and classifies individuals differently under the law. Supporters say increased penalties deter crimes.

What do you think?

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dogwood
dogwood

The way the hate crime bill is written this will happen if it becomes law. October 2017 while at a laundrary mat a in Cedartown Ga a person of color called the police to report I had a red truck and he said it was a hate crime because it insulted him. I had met the man and spent time talking with him beford. I am 70 on social security which by law if convicted I would lose my retirement funds. We see this madness nation wide and this isn’t Chicago its a big state. Its my belief this would… Read more »

bethebalance
bethebalance

Your scenario doesn’t make much sense. The color of a truck is not a thing of hate. Did the other individual specify something else that he thought was hateful? Not to mention that the hate crime must accompany an actual crime, like assault or battery. And the allegations would be vetted by a police officer or prosecutor to make sure only legitimate crimes are charged. So don’t worry, have no fear. White privilege is not a crime. Nor is a confederate flag on your car. But if you assault a person of color while screaming about the glories of the… Read more »

bethebalance
bethebalance

In the article linked yesterday, there was some real nonsense being spewed by some advocate opposing the law- the nonsense that her white children weren’t protected by the law, and that the law only advantages minorities. Utter nonsense.
“Race” includes white (Caucasian), so if you commit an assault or battery in conjunction with declarations of how much you hate white people, you will also be committing a hate crime.

LTWill
LTWill

I’d say that its about time.