A West Seattle woman was arrested last month and held on $500,000 bond for what prosecutors say is a hate crime she is alleged to have committed in November.
The 48-year-old woman used a cellphone to make the 10-minute video of herself on a racist rant while she drove behind one of her neighbors. The video also includes the woman confronting the neighbor in the parking lot of a private school the victim's children attend. The suspect, who has a criminal history, was arrested when she posted the video on Facebook. She was charged with malicious harassment, which is a hate crime, in Washington.
Under the Revised Code of Washington, a person is guilty of malicious harassment if he or she intentionally commits one of the following acts because of the perception of a victim's race, gender, religion, ancestry, national origin, sexual orientation, or mental, physical or sensory abilities:
- Causes physical injury to the victim or another person;
- Causes physical damage to or destruction of the property of the victim or another person; or
- Threatens a specific person or group of people and places that person, or members of the group, in reasonable fear of harm.
Malicious harassment is a Class C felony punishable by up to five years in jail, a fine of up to $10,000 or both.
The woman complained that the victim was from Mexico and did not belong in the United States. She claimed one of the woman's children had previously caused a car crash even though police records show the suspect was responsible for the incident. She also recorded herself threatening to ram the victim's SUV, and saying the police did not pursue charges against the victim because of “Spanish privilege.”
The high bond against the woman was, in part, due to the hate crime aspect of the case and in part because the woman had previous convictions for second-degree assault and driving under the influence.
During her arraignment, the woman's attorney argued that the charges should be reduced to harassment, which is similar to malicious harassment, but without the elements of a hate crime. Harassment is a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail, or a fine of up to $5,000, or both. The woman's attorney also argued that her bail should be lowered. However, after a transcript of her comments was read aloud in the courtroom, the judge denied the attorney's motion to reduce the charge and the bail amount.
Do not let a lapse in judgement ruin your life. No matter the crime, every defendant has a right to representation by a qualified attorney. If you have been arrested and face criminal charges, call the Seattle law office of Steve Karimi at (206) 621-8777 or contact him online.