Ethnic Intimidation Defense

Michigan law prohibits malicious and intentional intimidation or harassment of another person because of that person's race, color, religion, gender, or national origin. This conduct alleged by the victim must also (a) cause physical contact with another person, (b) damage, destroy, or deface real or personal property, or (c) threaten to do an act described in (a) or (b) if there is reasonable cause to believe that such an act will occur. Regardless of the existence or outcome of any criminal prosecution, a person who suffers injury to his/her person or damage to his/her property as a result of ethnic intimidation may sue the person who committed the offense to secure an injunction, actual damages, including damages for emotional distress, or other appropriate relief. A plaintiff may recover treble (triple) damages or $2,000.00, whichever is greater.

The penalty for a conviction is: Felony; up to 2 years in prison and/or fines up to $5,000.

The Michigan statute which prohibits ethnic intimidation reads as follows:

MCL 750.147b Ethnic intimidation.

(1) A person is guilty of ethnic intimidation if that person maliciously, and with specific intent to intimidate or harass another person because of that person's race, color, religion, gender, or national origin, does any of the following:

  1. Causes physical contact with another person.
  2. Damages, destroys, or defaces any real or personal property of another person.
  3. by word or act, to do an act described in subdivision (a) or (b), if there is reasonable cause to believe that an act described in subdivision (a) or (b) will occur.

(2) Ethnic intimidation is a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 2 years, or by a fine of not more than $5,000.00, or both.

(3) Regardless of the existence or outcome of any criminal prosecution, a person who suffers injury to his or her person or damage to his or her property as a result of ethnic intimidation may bring a civil cause of action against the person who commits the offense to secure an injunction, actual damages, including damages for emotional distress, or other appropriate relief. A plaintiff who prevails in a civil action brought pursuant to this section may recover both of the following:

  1. Damages in the amount of 3 times the actual damages described in this subsection or $2,000.00, whichever is greater.
  2. Reasonable attorney fees and costs.

Contact attorney Joseph Cross direct at (877) OWI-LAWS to learn what avenues of defense or plea bargain may be available to you. You can also complete our Free Online Case Review and Mr. Cross will contact you.

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