Sen. Berthel Co-Sponsors Legislation Giving CT Strongest Hate Crimes Law in the Nation

June 6, 2017

Berthel 2017-03-03 Oath of Office (16 of 21)

Sen. Eric Berthel (R-Watertown) applauded the Connecticut State Senate’s June 6 passage of a comprehensive bill aimed at strengthening Connecticut’s hate crime laws, making them the strongest in the nation.

Sen. Berthel co-sponsored and voted in favor of the legislation, which now heads to the governor for his signature.

Over the last year, the United States has endured incidents of hate including murders, assaults, bomb threats and vandalism that have been directed against African-Americans, Hindu-Americans, Hispanics, Jews, Muslims, Sikh-Americans, transgender women and others.

House Bill 5743, An Act Concerning Hate Crimes:

  • Strengthens hate crime laws by increasing penalties, making it a felony (instead of a misdemeanor) for committing a hate crime against a group of persons (instead of a specific individual.)
  • Strengthens and modernizes Connecticut’s hate crime laws to include hate crimes based on gender (sex). Current law protects only “gender identity or expression,” not gender.
  • Strengthens hate crime laws by increasing the penalty to a Class C felony (from a Class D felony) for making a bomb threat or other threat of violence against a house of worship, religious community center or other religious institution—or any daycare facility—if the threat is made with the intent to terrorize another person or to cause the evacuation of the building or grounds. This puts the penalty for such bomb threats on par with threats made against schools.
  • Strengthens hate crime laws by increasing the penalty for desecrating any house of worship or any religious cemetery from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class C felony if there is more than $10,000 in damage, or a Class D felony if there is less than $10,000 in damage.
  • Strengthens hate crime laws by expanding the threshold for a 1st-degree hate crime from its current requirement of causing “serious physical injury” to instead causing “physical injury.”
  • Establishes a court’s power to order extensive, relevant community service and/or restitution, in addition to any other penalties imposed for hate crime convictions.
  • Establishes a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000 for individuals convicted of hate crimes.

Berthel, who serves on the legislature’s Judiciary Committee, represents Bethlehem, Bridgewater, Middlebury, Oxford, Roxbury, Seymour, Southbury, Washington, Watertown, and Woodbury.  He can be reached at 800 842-1421 and at [email protected] . On the web: .