The assault of Ebony Belcher earlier this summer has been classified a hate crime. Francine Jones was charged with simple assault for the crime against the transgender woman in May. After an investigation, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has added a new charge of bias-related crime.
If Jones is found guilty, the court may fine her up to one and a half times the maximum fine and imprison her for up to one and a half times the maximum term authorized for the simple assault, which carries a maximum of 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Jones pled not guilty to both charges at her arraignment last Thursday at the District’s Superior Court. “As is typically the case, the prosecutor stated that the defendant has been extended a plea offer,” William Miller, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said in an email.
This makes the seventh hate crime in the District against a person because of their gender identity or expression, Karimah Bilal, spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police Department, said in an email.
Jones’ next hearing is scheduled for Aug. 19.
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