Hate Crimes

What is a hate crime?

A hate crime (also known as a bias-motivated crime) is a criminal act or attempted criminal act against an individual or group of individuals because of their actual or perceived membership in a certain social group, including: age, class, disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sex or sexual orientation “Hate crimes” generally refers to criminal acts which are seen to have been motivated by hatred of one or more of the listed groups above.  Incidents may involve sexual assault, damage to property, bullying, harassment, verbal abuse or insults, or offensive graffiti or hate mail. Free speech is protected by the United States Constitution and is not a hate crime.  However, speech that carries a credible threat of violence against an individual or group of people is criminal. If the criminal offense was not committed because of bias, an appropriate criminal charge can nonetheless be filed.

Legal Definition

“Hate crime” means a criminal act committed (including but not limited to those found below in 422.6), in whole or in part, becuase of one or more of the following actual or perceived characteristics of the victim:
  • Disability
  • Gender
  • Nationality
  • Race or ethnicity
  • Religion
  • Sexual orientation
  • Association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics.Cal. Pen. Code § 422.55.
No person, whether or not acting under color of law, shall by force or threat of force, willfully injure, intimidate, interfere with, oppress, or threaten any other person in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him or her by the Constitution or laws of this state or by the Constitution or laws of the United States in whole or in part because of one or more of the actual or perceived characteristics of the victim listed in subdivision (a) of Section 422.55. No Person, whether or not acting under color of law, shall knowingly deface, damage, or destroy the real or personal property of any other person for the purpose of intimidating or interfering with the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to the other person by the Constitution or laws of this state or by the Constitution or laws of the United States, in whole or in part because of one or more of the actual or perceived characteristics of the victim listen in subdivision (a) of Section 422.55. Cal. Pen. Code § 422.6.

Who are the victims of hate crimes?

Any crime victim who feels targeted because of their actual or perceived membership in a certain social group is a victim of a hate crime. These crimes victimize both individuals and the entire community.

What to do if you’re a victim or witness of a hate crime…

  • If it is an emergency, dial 911.
  • Document any information you have regarding the crime as soon as possible after the incident. Include any details about the perpetrators physical appearance including gender, age, height, race, weight, clothes, and other distinguishing characteristics.
  • File reports with your local police department and the FBI. Be sure to get the responding officer’s name and badge number and a case number. Get your own copy of the police report if possible. If you need the phone number for a local police department, please call 1-800-VICTIMS.
  • Find support from friends/family and from a professional if needed.

Resources for victims of hate crimes…

State Resources:
  • California Fair Employment & Housing Commission Report a hate crime. 1-800-884-1684 (TTY: 800-700-2320)
  • Anti-Violence Project Reporting, counseling, and attorney consult for victims. 1-800-373-2227 (Spanish: 877-963-4666)
  • Office of the Attorney General Victims’ Services Unit Report a hate crime after reporting to local police. 1-877-433-9069
National Resources:
  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation – Civil Rights/Hate Crimes Investigates and prosecutes hate crimes. 1-202-324-3000
  • National Center for Victims of Crime Provides resources to victims of crime. 1-202-467-8700

You may be eligible for compensation…

The California Victim Compensation Program may be able to help victims who were injured or threatened with physical injury as the result of a hate crime. See the following link to find out how to apply for compensation: http://vcgcb.ca.gov/ or contact the California Victim Compensation Program: California Victim Compensation & Government Claims Board Phone: 1-800-777-9229 Web: http://www.vcgcb.ca.gov For help in another language, please click one the following: