What to Know About Hate Crimes

Would you know a hate crime if you saw one?

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, an average of 250,000 hate crimes were committed each year between 2004 and 2015. However, a large number of them were never reported either by the victim or by onlookers.

It’s important to understand what a hate crime looks like, as well as what you should do if you experience or witness one. Here’s what to know.

What is a hate crime?

A hate crime is a crime committed on the basis of someone’s race, ethnicity, religion, gender and/or gender identity, sexual orientation or disability. In most cases, bias is evidenced by the language used by the perpetrator, and from 2011 to 2015 about 90% of hate crimes reported by the National Crime Victimization Survey involved violence.

How common are hate crimes?

In 2018, U.S. law enforcement agencies submitted 7,120 hate crime incident reports involving 8,496 offenses. In more than half of these cases, motivation was based on race, ethnicity or ancestry.

Are hate crimes a federal offense?

In 2009, Congress passed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act to broaden federal hate crime law and give the federal government more power to prosecute these types of crimes. However, it is mostly up to states and local law enforcement agencies to prosecute hate crimes, and there is no standard approach to enforcement across the country.

How to report a hate crime

If you are a victim or witness to a hate crime, file a report with both your local law enforcement and the FBI. Victims are encouraged to contact an attorney as well as a nonprofit advocate who can help navigate the process.

Have questions or need legal assistance? Please reach out today.

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