As of January 1, 2018, sexting or cyberstalking can take on an added dimension. The Illinois Hate Crime statute now includes intimidation, stalking, cyberstalking and transmitting obscene messages within the offense.

To be convicted of a hate crime on this basis, you must have intimidated, sexted, stalked or cyberstalked the other person because of their actual or perceived race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, gender, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability or national origin.

Generally, hate crime is a Class 4 felony for the first offense, punishable by 1 to 3 years in prison, but bumps up to a Class 2 felony, punishable by 3 to 7 years, for later offenses. Hate crime becomes a Class 3 felony (2 to 5 years) for a first offense if the crime is committed at a church, cemetery, school or public park.

Besides criminal penalties, the victim of a hate crime may sue you in civil court. Therefore, it is particularly important to be careful in handling your criminal case because the facts of the criminal case could be used against you in a civil suit.

If you have been charged with a sexting, cyberstalking or a hate crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. As with most criminal offenses, the state has to prove you guilty of all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Can the state prove your motivation?

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email

See Illinois Hate Crime statute,

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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