Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has signed into law the. The new law mandates enhanced sentencing for defendants convicted of targeting a victim because of their “actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender, mental disability, or physical disability.” That would mean additional potential prison time or fines on top of sentences for the type of crime for which the defendant was convicted, such as assault, manslaughter or murder.
Before the passage of HB426, Georgia was one of four states with no hate crimes law on its books. South Carolina, Wyoming and Arkansas remain without the legislation.
Georgia once passed a hate crime bill in 2000, but eventually the state Supreme Court tossed it out because it was “unconstitutionally vague.” In 2019, HB 426 narrowly passed Georgia’s House but eventually stalled in the Senate.
The law becomes effective July 1. It also mandates the collection and reporting of data on hate crimes investigated by law enforcement.