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High-Profile Assault Case Becomes Hate Crime

 Posted on July 16, 2018 in Assault & Battery

High-Profile Assault Case Becomes Hate CrimeA Chicago man was recently charged with a felony hate crime and misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct stemming from his recorded confrontation with a woman wearing a shirt depicting the flag of Puerto Rico. Shot from the alleged victim’s perspective, the video showed the man approaching and berating her for her shirt, saying that she should wear a shirt with a U.S. flag if she is a U.S. citizen. The misdemeanor charges would be punishable by as many as 30 days in jail and a fine of as much as $1,500. The felony charge could result in two to five years in prison.

Assault Charge

The man never touched the woman, but prosecutors believed his actions qualified as assault. Illinois’ legal definition of assault is conduct that makes the victim reasonably believe that he or she may be at risk of bodily harm. The video shows the man to be:

  • Initiating the confrontation despite the woman’s repeated request to be left alone;
  • Walking up close enough to the woman that he could have touched her;
  • Continually berating the woman for her choice of clothing; and
  • Generally behaving erratically.

The court will decide whether the man’s behavior was reason enough for the woman to feel endangered.

Hate Crime Charge

A misdemeanor assault conviction would likely result in a fine and mandated community service, with jail time being a possible but not certain outcome. A hate crime conviction would be more serious because of the increased likelihood of prison time. A hate crime occurs when someone commits an offense such as assault or battery because of a person’s:

  • Race;
  • Ancestry;
  • Religion;
  • Gender;
  • Sexual orientation; or
  • Physical or mental disability.

In this case, the man is accused of assaulting the woman because of her Puerto Rican heritage. In the video, the man repeatedly asks the woman whether she is a U.S. citizen and tells her she should not be wearing a shirt that celebrates Puerto Rico. Being charged with a hate crime for the first time is normally a class 4 felony. However, the man was charged with a class 3 felony because the incident occurred in a public park.

Criminal Defense

The man may have a difficult time defending himself because of the video evidence available of the incident. Normally, assault cases rely on prosecutors proving that the incident occurred as described and that the victim was reasonable in feeling threatened. A DuPage County criminal defense attorney with Stephen A. Brundage, Attorney at Law, can defend you against unreasonable assault charges. Schedule an appointment by calling 630-260-9647.


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