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Hate Crimes

Hate Crime = A Crime + Motivation for committing the crime based on hate

Hate crime or bias incident?

An act or attempted act that violates criminal law and is motivated by bias may be a prosecutable hate crime.

At the federal level, a crime motivated by bias against race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or disability. State laws may also allow for state or local prosecution of certain hate crimes.

Not all hateful behavior, including hate speech, is a crime. Acts of prejudice that are not crimes and do not involve violence, threats or property damage would be considered bias or hate incidents - despicable and unnerving but not a crime. However, reporting such incidents to local police and city/town representatives can help them educate, inform and protect all of our communities. Not everyone who engages in hate speech will escalate to committing a hate crime. When it does happen, however, documentation of these incidents could potentially be used in a criminal proceeding to show pattern and motivation.

Hate crimes impact more than the victim

Hate crimes have devastating effects beyond the harm inflicted on one victim. They reverberate through families, communities, and the nation as others fear that they, too, could be threatened, attacked, etc. because of who they are or are perceived to be.

Federally protected classes:

  • Race, Color, National Origin
  • Religion
  • Disability, Sexual Orientation
  • Familial Status
  • Sex, Gender
  • Gender Identity

If you are the victim of a hate crime

Report it

  • Contact your local law enforcement agency right away then report it to the FBI.

Document it

  • Make note of as many details as you can: age, skin color, facial hair, height/weight, clothing, scars/tattoos, vehicle details, etc. Only take a photo or video of the person or their vehicle if it is safe to do so.
  • Write down the exact words that were said. Write down details while fresh in your mind. Use the voice memo feature or the notepad on your phone.
  • Save all evidence (e.g., emails, screenshots of posts, photos of damage, etc.)
  • Get the names and contact information of all victims and witnesses.

Get Support

  • You are not alone - reach out to friends, community groups, victim support groups.

You are NOT alone

A hate crime or bias incident may be perpetrated against an individual or group, but we all can do our part to make sure all of our neighbors and community members feel safe:

  • Speak out against hate and intolerance
  • Hold support rallies in your community
  • Offer help and support to victims
  • Work with your local law enforcement, local government, schools, religious organizations and community groups to respond to hate crimes and bias incidents when they happen and to promote prevention and awareness


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Report Hate Crimes 1-800-CALL-FBI