Illinois law makes certain actions a Hate Crime, under 720 ILCS 5/12-7.1:
A person commits a hate crime in Illinois when, by reason of the actual or perceived race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, gender, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, or national origin of another individual or group of individuals, regardless of the existence of any other motivating factor or factors, he commits assault, battery, aggravated assault, misdemeanor theft, criminal trespass to residence, misdemeanor criminal damage to property, criminal trespass to vehicle, criminal trespass to real property, mob action, disorderly conduct, harassment by telephone, or harassment through electronic communications.
Except as provided below, hate crime is a Class 4 felony in Illinois for a first offense and a Class 2 felony for a second or subsequent offense.
Hate crime is a Class 3 felony for a first offense and a Class 2 felony for a second or subsequent offense if committed:
(1) in a church, synagogue, mosque, or other building, structure, or place used for religious worship or other religious purpose;
(2) in a cemetery, mortuary, or other facility used for the purpose of burial or memorializing the dead;
(3) in a school or other educational facility, including an administrative facility or public or private dormitory facility of or associated with the school or other educational facility;
(4) in a public park or an ethnic or religious community center;
(5) on the real property comprising any location specified in clauses (1) through (4) of this subsection (b-5); or
(6) on a public way within 1,000 feet of the real property comprising any location specified in clauses (1) through (4) of this subsection.
In addition to the possible jail or prison time, those convicted of hate crimes in Illinois can also be ordered to pay restitution and to perform 200 hours of community service. The Illinois hate crime law also makes clear that a hate crime can be an independent basis for a lawsuit – whether or not the defendant is criminally convicted of a hate crime. There is also the social stigma that can attach to a person accused of a hate crime.
While there are certainly many cases where a person commits a crime because of hate, there are also many situations where police and prosecutors charge a hate crime when none has occurred, as the motivation for the alleged crime was unrelated to hate. Since hate crime charges can quickly turn would might have been a misdemeanor into a very serious felony, anyone who is accused of a hate crime is well advised to remain silent and seek an attorney at once.