Hate crimes are offenses that consist of willingly injuring, intimidating or interfering with another person, or attempting to do so, by force because of the other person’s race, color, religion or national origin.

  • Behaviorally, a hate crime is about offensive behavior, such as physical assault, damage to property, bullying, harassment, verbal abuse, insult, propaganda, or offensive graffiti.

Hate crimes are considered to have negative effects on society as a whole.

  • Not only does it create generalized terror within the group to which the victim belongs, but it is a direct threat to equality and social harmony by unnecessarily stimulating divisions in society.

A bias crime is an act that is motivated by the perpetrator’s bias against the group to which the victim belongs.

A bias-motivated crime has been defined as “a crime in which the offender is motivated by a characteristic of the victim that identifies the victim as a member of some group toward which the offender feels animosity.

The key criterion in hate crime legislation is motivation. The act must be bias-motivated. Its purpose must be to harm a person or property because of race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation. In some cases, the bias will be apparent; in other cases, the motive will have to be inferred from crime scene clues or other evidence, such as:

  • Offensive symbols
  • Offensive language overheard by bystanders/witnesses
  • Prior history of similar acts in similar area/similar victims
  • Involvement with an organized hate group
  • Victim different from other potential victims in the area
  • Other motives, like financial gain, are absent