Ethnic Intimidation, under Michigan Compiled Law 750.147b, is a 2 year maximum felony offense in the State of Michigan. To prove this offense, the Prosecutor would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the following:
1) The Defendant either:
a) Caused physical contact with the alleged victim;
b) Threatened to cause physical contact with the alleged victim;
c) Damaged, destroyed, or defaced property of the alleged victim;
d) Threatened by what he or she said or did, to damage, destroy, or
deface property of the alleged victim, and that there was reasonable
cause to believe that such an act would occur.
2) The Defendant did one of the above named acts without just cause or excuse and with the specific intent to intimidate or harass the alleged victim.
3) The Defendant did so because of the race, color, religion, gender, or national origin of the alleged victim.
Michigan Compiled Law 750.147b does not provide for a criminal penalty for ethnic intimidation based upon sexual orientation. There are other provisions of the law – such as assault, assault and battery, felonious assault (assault with a deadly weapon), assault with intent to cause great bodily harm,assault with intent to murder, murder, manslaughter, domestic violence laws, etc.) that protect any citizen from various degrees of assaultive behavior. Ethnic intimidation is not applicable in terms of criminal prosecution on the basis of calling someone an ugly, offensive name without some touching, damage to property, or threat to the alleged victims person or property involved. Depending upon the facts of the case, the Prosecutor could contemplate charging the alleged perpetrator of making the ugly, offensive remark with the misdemeanor of disorderly person.
Regardless of the outcome of any criminal prosecution, the alleged victim of ethnic intimidation may bring a cause of action against the perpetrator of the act or acts to secure an injunction, personal protection order, and civil damages for emotional distress or other appropriate relief. If successful with a lawsuit for civil damages, the recovery can be as much as 3 times the actual damages or $2,000 (whichever is greater), and reasonable attorney fees and costs.
There are other forms of discrimination that can be prosecuted in Michigan. In Michigan, a person cannot discriminate in extending credit or granting a loan on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, marital status, sex, or physical disability unless both of the following apply:
1) The person is a nonprofit corporation whose members share 1 of the following:
a) The same racial, religious, ethnic, marital, or sexual characteristic
b) The same physical disability
c) A blend of the above described characteristics
2) The person extends credit or grants a loan only to its members.
Also, Michigan does not allow discrimination in the rating of a person’s creditworthiness on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, marital status, sex, or physical disability. A violation of discrimination in extending credit, granting a loan, or rating a person’s creditworthiness is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000. A person so aggrieved may file a civil action for $200, or for the damages, whatever is greater. The prevailing party in a civil action is entitled to recover court costs and reasonable attorney fees.
Michigan also has a provision in the law that allows for prosecution for denial of equal public accommodations. Any person – a owner, lessee, proprietor, manager, superintendent, agent or employee may be prosecuted for a violation if he or she directly or indirectly refuses, withholds from, or denies any person of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, and privileges thereof, or directly or indirectly publish, circulate, issue, display, post, or mail any communication, notice, or advertisement to the effect that any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, and privileges of any such place shall be refused, withheld from or denied to any person on account of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, or blindness or that any particular race, color, religion, national origin, sex or blindness is not welcome, objectionable or not acceptable, not desired, or solicited.
Every such offense is deemed a separate misdemeanor that carries a fine of not less than $100, imprisonment for not less than 15 days, or both at the discretion of the Court. In a civil action the alleged victim can obtain triple damages. If the perpetrator had a license related to the transaction, that perpetrator’s license may be suspended.
The above allegations can damage an accused person’s reputation in the community, and can have an impact in terms of freedom and finances. Courts are not tolerant to persons convicted of these types of behavior, and experienced legal counsel is a necessity when such an accusation is made.
Hiring the right criminal defense lawyer may be one of the most important decisions you make for yourself and your family. There are many lawyers who claim to do more than what they are able – just as there are many surgeons in the world that are no better than butchers. Do not settle for a legal hack job. Practicing law is a skill that develops over time with experience, commitment, dedication, and God given talent. There are no amateur attorneys at Hilf & Hilf, PLC – only professionals that are guided by the humanity in the individuals we serve, and the drive not to settle for what is easy over what is right.