Juvenile Charged with Hate Crime in AC Transit Attack in Berkeley (CA Penal Code 422.55, 422.6, 422.7, & 422.75)

18-year-old (name withheld for privacy) self-identifies as ‘gender queer,’ and prefers to be referred to with variations of the pronoun ‘they.’  They also prefer to wear non-gender specific clothing (including skirts), which may have made them the target of an attack on the AC transit system.  Although the victim is a gender-identity activist, it seems that at least one 16-year-old boy may have failed to understand the complexities involved in this issue and determined to set fire to the victim while sleeping on a bus. The boy was arrested on charges of assault while the victim, suffering second-and third-degree burns, is expected to remain hospitalized for a period of at least three weeks.

If it can be proven that the attack on victim was not merely a random assault, but motivated by bias or prejudice, then that crime will fall under what is known as  “Hate Crime” laws (CA Penal Code 422.55, 422.6, 422.7, & 422.75).  This is because, in the state of California, a person’s reasons for committing a crime can be just as important as having committed the crime itself and discrimination against another person’s gender or sexual orientation are two of the several factors listed that could mean a much harsher sentence (race, ethnicity, disability, religion, and nationality).  Of course, if it can be proven that the boy did not attack Sasha because of their gender or sexual orientation, he will only spend 6 months in county jail and face a maximum fine of $1,000.  If not, he will receive the prescribed penalty for the original crime in addition to ‘hate crime’ sentencing enhancements.