The Southeast Region of the Anti-Defamation League sent the AJT a draft Thursday, Jan. 4, of the hate-crimes legislation Rep. Meagan Hanson (R-Brookhaven) plans to introduce for the session of the Georgia General Assembly opening Monday, Jan. 8.
Hanson and the ADL held a press conference announcing the bill Wednesday, Jan. 3. Georgia has lacked a hate-crimes law since the state Supreme Court in 2004 threw out a measure enacted in 2000. Georgia, South Carolina, Indiana, Arkansas and Wyoming are the only U.S. states without such a law.
Below is the text of the draft bill.
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
To amend Article 1 of Chapter 10 of Title 17, Title 35, and Chapter 1 of Title 51 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to the procedure for sentencing and imposition of punishment, law enforcement officers and agencies, and general provisions relating to torts, respectively, so as to repeal certain provisions regarding sentencing of defendants guilty of crimes involving bias or prejudice; to provide for sentencing of defendants who commit certain crimes which target a victim or his or her property because of the defendant’s belief regarding the victim’s race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, mental disability, or physical disability; to provide for training in identifying and reporting of hate crimes; to provide for civil liability for hate crimes; to provide for construction; to provide for related matters; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF GEORGIA:
Article 1 of Chapter 10 of Title 17 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to the procedure for sentencing and imposition of punishment, is amended by repealing in its entirety Code Section 17-10-17, relating to sentencing of defendants guilty of crimes involving bias or prejudice, circumstances, and parole, and enacting a new Code Section 17-10-17 to read as follows:
(a) As used in this Code section, the term:
(1) ‘Developmental disability’ shall have the same meaning as set forth in Code Section 23 37-1-1.
(2) ‘Mental disability’ means having a mental illness or developmental disability.
(3) ‘Mental illness’ shall have the same meaning as set forth in Code Section 37-1-1.
(b) Subject to the notice requirement provided in Code Section 17-10-18 and in enhancement of the penalty imposed, if the trier of fact determines beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intentionally selected any victim or any property of the victim as the object of the offense because of the individual’s belief or perception regarding the race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, mental disability, or physical disability of such person or group of persons, whether or not such individual’s belief or perception was correct, the judge imposing sentence shall:
(1) If the offense for which the defendant was convicted is a misdemeanor, impose a sentence of not less than three and not more than 12 months, and an additional fine of not more than $5,000.00;
(2) If the offense for which the defendant was convicted is a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature, impose a sentence of not less than six and not more than 12 months, and an additional fine of not more than $5,000.00; or
(3) If the offense for which the defendant was convicted is a felony, impose a sentence of not less than two years.
(c) When imposing sentence, the judge shall state the amount of the increase of the sentence based on the application of subsection (b) of this Code section.
(d) Any felony sentence imposed pursuant to this Code section shall not be suspended, stayed, probated, deferred, or withheld by the sentencing court. Any misdemeanor sentence imposed pursuant to this Code section shall not be given earned time allowances as authorized by Code Section 42-4-7 and such sentence shall not be stayed, probated, deferred, or withheld by the sentencing court.”
Said article is further amended by revising Code Section 17-10-18, relating to notification to seek enhanced penalty, as follows:
At any time after the filing of an indictment or accusation but not later than the arraignment, the state shall notify the defendant accused of its intention to seek the enhanced penalty or penalties authorized by Code Section 17-10-17. The notice shall be in writing and shall allege the specific factor or factors authorizing an enhanced a sentence in the case pursuant to Code Section 17-10-17.”
Said article is further amended by revising Code Section 17-10-19, relating to determination of guilt, object of the offense, and enhancement of sentence, as follows:
(a) In a case where notice has been given pursuant to Code Section 17-10-18, the trier of fact shall initially determine the defendant’s guilt on the charge or charges. If the trier of fact finds the defendant guilty of such charge or charges, the trial shall immediately be recommenced to receive evidence as is relevant to determine whether the defendant intentionally selected the victim or the property of the victim as the object of the offense as set forth in the notice given pursuant to Code Section 17-10-18.
(b) If the trier of fact determines beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant so acted, the judge shall enhance the sentence imposed impose a sentence in accordance with the provisions of Code Section 17-10-17.”
Title 35 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to law enforcement officers and agencies, is amended by adding a new Code section to read as follows:
(a) As used in this Code section, the term ‘hate crimes’ means the conduct prohibited by subsection (b) of Code Section 17-10-17.
(b) The Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council and the Georgia Public Safety Training Center shall establish guidelines and procedures for the incorporation of training materials and information in methods for:
(1) Identifying, responding to, and reporting activity involving or allegedly involving hate crimes;
(2) Combating hate crimes; and
(3) Individuals, law enforcement officials, and personnel within state agencies and departments and local governments to provide information to the Georgia Crime Information Center to report activity that involves or may lead to a hate crime.
(c) The guidelines and procedures listed in subsection (b) of this Code section shall be for use by law enforcement training centers monitored by the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council and monitored and funded by the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in all courses for which they have responsibility and oversight.
(d) It shall be the duty of every law enforcement officer who receives a report based on reliable information that involves a hate crime to report such information to the Georgia Crime Information Center immediately after receiving such report. The board is authorized and directed to promulgate rules and regulations pertaining to the submission of reports provided for in this subsection. Such rules and regulations shall include time limits for the submission of reports and the forms upon which reports shall be submitted.”
Said title is further amended by revising paragraph (3) of subsection (a) of Code Section 35-3-33, relating to the powers and duties of the Georgia Crime Information Center generally, as follows:
“(3) Provide a uniform crime reporting system for the periodic collection, analysis, and reporting of crimes reported to and otherwise processed by any and all law enforcement agencies within the state, as defined and provided for in this article, including specifications of when a crime is apparently committed due to a victim’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, mental disability, or physical disability;”
Chapter 1 of Title 51 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to general provisions relating to torts, is amended by adding a new Code section to read as follows:
When an individual violates Code Section 17-10-17, he or she may be liable for damages to any person incurring an injury or damage to his or her person or property as a result of such conduct. In addition to the damages recoverable as provided in Chapter 12 of this title, a plaintiff may recover reasonable attorney’s fees and costs of litigation.”
Nothing in this Act shall be construed or applied in a manner that infringes on any rights under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution or Article I, Section I, Paragraphs III, IV, or V of the Georgia Constitution.
All laws and parts of laws in conflict with this Act are repealed.