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Racially Aggravated Offences are treated extremely seriously by the courts and can result in a prison sentence. If you have been accused or charged of racially aggravated offences we want to hear from you. 

Call us for immediate advice by telephone on 0161 477 1121.

What are Racially Aggravated Offences?

Parliament has passed specific legislation aimed at outlawing crime where the offender is motivated by hostility or hatred towards the victim’s race or religious beliefs (actual or perceived).

For conduct not covered by the specific offences in the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, a court has duty to treat evidence of racial or religious hostility as an aggravating factor increasing sentence as provided by section 145 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003.

The Crime and Disorder Act 1998, s28 defines this as follows: –

“An offence is racially or religiously aggravated …if –

(a) At the time of committing the offence, or immediately before or after doing so, the offender demonstrates towards the victim of the offence hostility based on the victim’s membership (or presumed membership) of a racial or religious group; or

(b) The offence is motivated (wholly or partly) by hostility towards members of a racial or religious group based on their membership of that group.

It is more usual for offences to be brought under section (a) above when a comment said in the heat of the moment and is often not committed by people who perceive themselves to be “racist”.

The definition is wide-ranging, one of our cases involved an elderly lady who, in the heat of an argument with her neighbour over their respective properties, said “An Englishman’s home is his castle”.

Definition of a “racial group”

The Act says a “racial group” means a “group of persons defined by reference to race, colour, nationality (including citizenship) or ethnic or national origins.”

The definition is wide and victims may come within the definition under more than one of the references. Gypsies and some travellers, refugees or asylum seekers or others from less visible minorities would be included within this definition.

While Romany gypsies have long been recognised as an ethnic racial group (Commission for Racial Equality v Dutton [1989] QB 783), in more recent times and certainly since the first instance discrimination case of O’Leary v Punch Retail (HHJ Goldstein, Westminster County Court, 29 August 2000), Irish Travellers have also been considered an ethnic racial group. 

Uplift in Sentence

In R v Kelly & Donnelly [2001] 2 Cr App R (S) 73 CA, which addressed the appropriate increase in sentence for racial aggravation and endorsed the following approach:

  • the court should first decide on the appropriate sentence without the element of racial or religious aggravation, but including any other aggravating or mitigating features;
  • the sentence should then be enhanced to take account of the racial or religious aggravation;
  • if the offence itself merits custody, that sentence should be enhanced by an appropriate amount to reflect the degree of racial or religious aggravation;
  • the judge should say publicly what the appropriate sentence would have been without the racial or religious aggravation.


How We Can Help


If you have been accused of a racially aggravated offence then it is important you seek legal advice as soon as possible. We can help.

We can advise you on the law and the possible defences that may be open to you.

These offences are viewed as particularly unpleasant by the court and having a lawyer on your side can protect your rights and ensure that your case is properly presented.

If you are convicted of a racially aggravated offence, the penalties are more than for the simple offence. A prison sentence is much more likely.

Mortons Solicitors can advise you and provide expert representation.

Call us now for immediate advice on 0161 477 1121.

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Why You Are In Safe Hands with Morton's Solicitors - Stockport, Manchester & Cheshire.

We have twice won the award for "Crime - Team of the Year" at the highly prestigious Manchester Legal Awards in 2018 & 2020.

Not only is this based on our ability to get fantastic results for our clients, but we also offer an extremely friendly, discreet and client-focused service which has earnt us the plaudits.

What this means for any prospective client is that your case is going to be in some of the safest hands in Criminal Defense for Stockport, Greater Manchester & across the North West.

Contact Us


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Tel: 0161 477 1121  

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