Malicious harassment, another term for a hate crime or bias crime, is the legal term in Washington for such motivated crimes. This weekend in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a hate crime was committed when a man shot up a Synagogue resulting in the deaths of 11 people and the injuries of 6 others, including 4 police officers. In 1985, an anti-Semitic man killed a family of four, whom he mistakenly believed to be Jewish. In 2014, another hate crime occurred when a man opened fire in front of a Jewish Community Center near Kansas City, Missouri. Would all of these be hate crimes in Washington? Must violence be involved to be arrested for malicious harassment?
Malicious Harassment in Washington
In the state of Washington, “A person is guilty of malicious harassment if he or she maliciously and intentionally commits one of the following acts because of his or her perception of the victim's race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or mental, physical, or sensory handicap:
- 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 persons and places that person, or members of the specific group of persons, in reasonable fear of harm to person or property. The fear must be a fear that a reasonable person would have under all the circumstances.”
A “reasonable person,” as it pertains to the foregoing law, means “a reasonable person who is a member of the victim's race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, or sexual orientation, or who has the same mental, physical, or sensory handicap as the victim.”
It may be inferred that the person accused of malicious harassment intended to threaten the victim(s) because of their perception that the “victims' race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or mental, physical, or sensory handicap if the person commits one of the following acts:
- Burns a cross on the property of a victim who is or whom the actor perceives to be of African American heritage; or
- Defaces property of a victim who is or whom the actor perceives to be of Jewish heritage by defacing the property with a swastika.”
Other Protected Statuses in the City of Seattle
If a hate crime takes place in the city of Seattle, there are other statuses that are protected by Seattle City Law:
- Marital status,
- Parental status,
- Gender Identity, and
- Political ideology.
You may be arrested for malicious harassment under Seattle City Ordinance if you are found to have caused injury to or threatened to cause injury to any of the protected statuses listed above.
Malicious harassment in the state of Washington is a class C felony and may be punishable by up to five years in prison and $10,000 in fines.
Contact the Law Offices of Steve Karimi
Defending yourself against hate crime accusations can be extremely difficult. They are often very emotionally charged and can be tough to negotiate. If you or a loved one has been arrested for malicious harassment you need strong legal representation. Criminal defense attorney Steve Karimi is here to help. Contact the Law Offices of Steve Karimi today.