Hate & Bias Crimes

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

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"With the help of VSS, you are empowered and encouraged to fight back and be pro-active. Then your conscience can be more at peace because you know you have taken some action to protest crimes inflicted on your loved one. It is sometimes your only consolation."

“The one takeaway for me in working with VSS is that it is a necessary organization. I know they are funded by grants and fundraisers but it’s something we need to make sure as a community that they have the funding needed because what they do for people in need doesn’t happen anywhere else. This is the only place that this happens and VSS helps with so many things.”

David Rose

Anchor, Q13 News and Host, Washington’s Most Wanted

“VSS is there when the unthinkable happens.  When a police officer knocks on your door and gives you tragic news, VSS helps navigate the court system, which can be very confusing. VSS is compassion, caring, and commitment. Commitment to once justice is done that victims and their families can move forward with their lives.”

Jennifer Gregerson

Mayor, City of Mukilteo

“VSS has been our partner in recovery and healing and a key part in what makes Mukilteo Strong. VSS has been a trusted advocate for the victims that have suffered so much in the community.  I’m so grateful to VSS as our partner in strength.”

Jon Nehring

Mayor, City of Marysville

“VSS is there for people in their darkest hour. At a time when they need an advocate and friend, VSS steps in to fill that gap and help them begin their journey back to some sense of normalcy.” 

Myrle Carner

Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound

“This thing about closure. There is never really closure in a victim’s life but VSS helps individuals to get closer to that and that’s critical because the cops and the judicial system just move on to another case because they don’t have time. Victims live with this trauma forever so VSS is with them for as long as they need the services. VSS takes the time, more importantly, they really care."

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