A 25-year-old man was recently arrested on charges of assault with a deadly weapon when he allegedly attacked and stabbed members of a Sacramento musical group, the Slaves, with a large, “Rambo-type’ hunting knife. Local law enforcement officials have now classified the occurrence as a hate crime. Members of the Slaves were injured, including the lead guitarist, whose hand was broken during the incident as he attempted to protect a friend and fellow band mate. However, none of the musicians sustained life-threatening injuries and are expected to continue with their planned gigs. Police determined that the attack was motivated by hate after learning that homophobic slurs were used during the attack, which seems otherwise unprovoked.
According to California law, sentencing enhancements may come into play when it is clear that a particular crime has been motivated by hatred for another person or group of persons due to their membership, or assumed membership, in a particular protected class. These include crimes motivated by hatred for another individual or group of individuals based on their sexual orientation, disability status, ‘race,’ ethnicity, religion, or the like. As the alleged perpetrator of the aforementioned crime stands accused of assault with a deadly weapon, often more commonly referred to as an “ADW” (CA Penal Code 245), he may already be looking at a variety of penalties.
An ADW is a ‘wobbler’ in California, meaning that prosecutors must determine, depending on the fact of the case at hand, whether they will treat it as a misdemeanor or as a felony. Felony charges will likely result in this particular case due to the violence inherent in the attack. Penalties for such an assault with injuries often include up to 4 years in state prison.
However, there is also the matter of the crime being designated as a ‘hate crime’ to consider (CA Penal Code 422.55, 422,6, 422.7, and 422.75). ‘Hate crime’ penalties for felony charges include an additional maximum of 3 years in prison, to be added to whatever sentence is handed down by the court pertaining to the original crime.