Hate Crimes

Crimes motivated by hate are not just attacks on individual innocent people – they are attacks on our communities.

What is a hate crime?

A hate crime is a crime against a person, group, or property motivated by the victim’s real or perceived protected social group. Hate crimes can be prosecuted either as misdemeanors or felonies depending on the acts committed.

In California, you can be a victim of a hate crime if you have been targeted because of your actual or perceived:

  • Race or ethnicity
  • Nationality
  • Religion
  • Gender
  • Sexual orientation
  • Physical or mental disability, or
  • Association with a person or group with one or more of these “actual” or “perceived” characteristics.

Please note, the above listed characteristics are examples, and other bases for actual or perceived protected social group characteristics exist.

Hate incident

A hate incident is an action or behavior motivated by hate but which, for one or more reasons, is not a crime. Examples of hate incidents include:

  • Name-calling
  • Insults
  • Displaying hate material on your own property.
  • Posting hate material that does not result in property damage.
  • Distribution of materials with hate messages in public places.

How to spot a hate crime

Signs that a crime was motivated by hate:

  • The offender chose the victim or property because they belonged to a protected group, like a certain religion or gender.
  • The offender made written or verbal comments showing a prejudice.
  • The crime happened on a date that is important for the victim’s or offender’s protected group.
  • There is organized hate activity in the area.

If you are a hate crime victim, consider:

  • Contacting your local law enforcement agency right away.
  • Getting medical attention (if you need it).
  • Writing down the exact words that were said.
  • Making notes about any other facts.
  • Saving all evidence (e.g., graffiti, egg shells, writing on Victim’s vehicle). If safe, wait until law enforcement arrives and takes photos.
  • Getting the names, addresses, phone numbers, and emails of other victims and witnesses.
  • Getting a description from any eyewitnesses of the criminal or the vehicle.
  • Contacting community organizations in your area that respond to hate crimes.

What you and our community can do

  • Speak out against hate and intolerance.
  • Have community rallies to support victims.
  • Offer support and help to victims.
  • Ask public officials to speak out against hate crimes.
  • Establish a human relations commission or hate crime network that includes law enforcement, local government, schools, religious organizations and community organizations. Ask them to respond to hate crimes immediately when they happen and to promote prevention and awareness.

Take action and learn more

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