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Hate/Bias-Related Crimes

Prosecuting bias-related crimes is critical to keeping our community safe. When one member of a group in the community is the victim of a bias-related crime, all members carry with them a fear that they, too, may be targeted because of who they are. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia (USAO-DC) is committed to enforcing both federal and local hate and bias-related crime laws.

When a suspected crime occurs in the District of Columbia, Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officers conduct an investigation to determine whether a criminal offense has been committed and to identify the perpetrator(s). When MPD has reason to suspect that a perpetrator’s bias is a contributing factor to a crime, MPD will classify the crime as “bias-related” and will bring this to the attention of USAO-DC when presenting a case for potential prosecution. When presented with a case for prosecution, USAO-DC carefully considers the facts and law in accordance with professional responsibility and ethical duties to determine whether a charge can be brought and to identify the most appropriate charge(s).

Although there are certain designated hate crimes under federal law, the D.C. Code does not include a stand-alone hate crime. Rather, the D.C. Code creates an enhanced offense when a crime is bias-related, which allows, but does not require, a judge to impose a higher sentence. To establish a bias-enhanced offense under D.C. Code § 22-3701 et seq., USAO-DC must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the perpetrator committed the underlying crime (such as an assault or a threat) because of the perpetrator’s prejudice based on the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, family responsibility, homelessness, disability, matriculation, or political affiliation of the victim. Pursuant to the local D.C. statute, a designated act need not solely be based on or because of an accused’s prejudice.

To establish a hate crime under federal law, USAO-DC must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the perpetrator’s commission of the underlying crime was motivated by bias against race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability.

USAO-DC has three Hate-Bias Crime Coordinators. Two Hate-Bias Crime Coordinators are supervisors in USAO-DC’s Superior Court Division, which is responsible for prosecuting violations of the D.C. Code in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. One Hate-Bias Crime Coordinator is a senior prosecutor in the Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section of USAO-DC’s Criminal Division, which is responsible for prosecuting violations of federal law in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. These coordinators review bias-related offenses for prosecution and coordinate with law enforcement agencies to address bias-related crime.

How to Report a Hate Crime

To report a hate crime, you can do any of the following:

  • Call 9-1-1 for a crime in progress or one that has just happened.
  • Call the MPD Hate Crimes Voicemail at (202) 727-0500. This voicemail allows individuals in the District to provide information regarding hate crimes anonymously, if they wish. Please note that MPD may not be able to investigate the information as a crime if there is not enough information supplied in the voicemail, so providing the caller’s contact information to facilitate follow-up questions may be helpful.
  • Call or visit your local MPD district station.

Mail or email a written statement with the complaint that contains information to support a claim that the incident constitutes a bias-related crime.

Statements should be sent to:

Hate Crimes Coordinator
Homeland Security Bureau
Metropolitan Police Department
300 Indiana Avenue, N.W.
Room 3000
Washington, DC 20001

or

hate.crimes@dc.gov

Hate-Bias Task Force

USAO-DC hosts a quarterly meeting of the D.C. Hate-Bias Task Force, a collaboration of agency and community partners in the District who focus on addressing the needs of various affinity groups in the city and combating hate-bias crimes. For more information on this Task Force, please contact Anita LaRue at Anita.LaRue@usdoj.gov.

USAO Fact Sheets

Relevant Press Releases

Resources

Updated July 12, 2022

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