In light of the rise in hate crimes in the country, tonight the city council will vote on a final version of a misdemeanor hate crime ordinance.
The new measure would raise penalties for those convicted of committing misdemeanors that were motivated by hate or bias against the victim.
The city wants to prevent hate crimes from not being reported by passing this new ordinance.
The new measure would add penalties to bias-driven crimes at the misdemeanor level, such as criminal trespass, disorderly conduct, endangerment, graffiti, harassment and threats or intimidation. It would also establish minimum penalties for first offenses, including mandatory jail time of at least 10 days and a minimum $100 fine. The minimum punishment would increase for future offenses to 20 days in jail and a $1,000 fine on second offenses. The punishment for a third or future offense would result in 40 days in jail and a minimum $2,500 fine.
The state of Arizona has a law for hate crimes, but it only applies to felonies committed under state law. It does not apply to misdemeanors or violations of local ordinances.
Under the city's current hate-crime law, only felony offenders are at risk of tougher penalties if their offense is driven by prejudice against a specific class.