Orange County District Attorney launches a proactive approach, including hate crime charges, to combat burglaries against the Asian community.
In an unwavering effort to address a distressing surge in targeted burglaries, Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer unveiled a robust plan aimed at safeguarding the Asian community. With a fresh policy in place, Spitzer vows to charge defendants responsible for heists with hate crimes, ensuring that justice prevails for victims and amplifying the consequences faced by those perpetrating these crimes.
In a bold move, Spitzer further asserts that he will publicly denounce local judges who, in his view, issue lenient sentences to certain defendants. Recognizing the judges as elected officials, Spitzer believes that transparency is paramount, emphasizing the public’s right to be informed of such decisions.
To combat the rising tide of burglaries, home invasions, and smash-and-grab robberies, Spitzer has established a dedicated unit within his office—the Home Invasion Eradication Interdiction Strike Team. This specialized team comprises seasoned prosecutors who diligently handle these cases, leaving no stone unturned in their pursuit of justice.
Over the past year, a staggering 140 defendants have been charged with offenses encompassing these crime categories, including 24 individuals associated with five distinct burglary crews within the past two weeks alone, as reported by the district attorney.
Notably, hate crime sentencing enhancements have been incorporated into charges against seven defendants accused of specifically targeting the Asian community. This pioneering legal approach, according to Spitzer, is a reflection of the unique circumstances surrounding these cases. In some instances, burglars deliberately target Asians under the misguided assumption that they possess substantial amounts of cash. While acknowledging the significance and assertiveness of this legal theory, Spitzer emphasizes that hate crime enhancements serve to elevate the gravity of the offenses. He hopes that his counterparts across the state will adopt a similar stance.
Nevertheless, legal experts have raised concerns about this new policy. UC Irvine law professor Katie Tinto cautions against relying on stereotypes to explain the motivations behind crimes, underscoring the potential pitfalls of this approach. Prosecutors will face the arduous task of proving the hate crime element in these cases, adding another layer of complexity to their efforts.
Spitzer, known for his outspoken nature, took the opportunity to criticize state lawmakers and criminal justice reform measures, asserting that they contribute to an increase in crime by diminishing the deterrent effect. He highlights the unprecedented plea deals offered to defendants during the COVID-19 pandemic, when court systems faced restrictions on trials and hearings.
Asserting that the pandemic has ended, Spitzer calls out judges who continue to operate under the assumption of a COVID environment. He unequivocally states that this is not the new norm in Orange County, underscoring his commitment to ensuring justice is administered effectively.
Spitzer also draws attention to a concerning trend involving Chilean nationals entering the country through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization program, engaging in criminal activities with the expectation of receiving low or no bail due to their lack of prior criminal records.
Painting a vivid picture of the impact of such crimes, Spitzer recounts a chilling home invasion in Fountain Valley. Four masked intruders subjected a family to a nightmarish ordeal, resorting to violence against the parents while their young children helplessly looked on. The suspects were ultimately apprehended after a high-speed chase, driving a vehicle stolen from the targeted residence.
In support of Spitzer’s efforts, Brea Police Chief Aam Hawley highlights a nine-month investigation resulting in 21 arrests. This resolute stance sends a strong message that justice will be served and serves as a warning to potential offenders.
With the safety of residents in mind, Orange County Supervisor Doug Chaffee urges vigilance, advising community members to secure their homes, install security systems, and foster neighborly communication. Supervisor Katrina Foley echoes these sentiments, acknowledging the concerns of constituents residing in affluent neighborhoods who fear break-ins.
As Orange County takes a bold stance against targeted burglaries, the proactive measures introduced by the district attorney reflect a commitment to protecting the Asian community. By employing hate crime charges and emphasizing accountability, Spitzer aims to create an environment where all residents can feel safe and secure within their own homes.