is a Hate Crime?
Hate crimes are criminal acts or attempted criminal acts
against an individual or group of individuals because of their actual
or perceived race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sexual
orientation, gender, or disability. Because they are targeted for who
they are, victims of hate crimes continue to feel threatened long
after an attack. These crimes victimize everyone – individuals and our
Some hate-motivated offenses do not rise to the level of a crime
that can be charged in court. These acts are called hate incidents.
Although they may not meet the definition of a crime, they leave
individuals feeling victimized and can escalate into criminal
Free speech is protected by the United States Constitution and
is not a hate crime. However, speech that carries a credible threat of
violence against an individual or group of people is criminal.
The following acts are examples of hate crimes under California law
when they are motivated by the victim’s actual or perceived race,
color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sexual orientation,
gender, or disability:
- Using force or threatening to use force to injure, intimidate,
or interfere with another person who is exercising his or her
- Defacing or damaging another person’s property to intimidate or
interfere with that person’s free exercise of his or her
- Desecrating a religious symbol or displaying a swastika on
another person’s property with the intent to terrorize another
- Vandalizing, burning, or bombing a church, synagogue, mosque, or
other house of worship to terrorize other persons
California Hate Crimes
– Commission of a crime for the purpose of
interfering with another’s exercise of civil rights.
P.C. 594.3 – Vandalism of place of worship based on racial
or religious bias.
P.C. 11412 – Threats obstructing exercise of religion.
P.C. 11413 – Use of destructive device or explosive or
commission of arson in certain places.
- P.C. 302 – Disorderly conduct during an assemblage of people
gathered for religious worship at a tax-exempt place of worship.
- P.C. 422.6 – Use of force, threats or destruction of
property to interfere with another’s exercise of civil rights.
- P.C. 422.9 – Violation of civil order (Bane Act) protecting
the exercise of civil rights.
- P.C. 538(c) – Unauthorized insertion of advertisements in
newspapers and redistribution to the public.
- P.C. 640.2 – Placing handbill, notice or advertisement on a
consumer product or product package without authorization.
- P.C. 11411 – Terrorism of owner or occupant of real
property. Placement or display of sign, symbol or other physical
impression without authorization, engagement in pattern of conduct,
or burning or desecration of religious symbols.
- P.C. 190.2(a)(16) – Special circumstances imposing the
Death Penalty or Life Without possibility of Parole if the victim was intentionally
killed because of race, color, religion, nationality, country of
- P.C. 190.3 – Special circumstances imposing Life
Without possibility of
Parole if the victim was intentionally killed because of
sexual orientation, gender or disability.
- P.C. 422.75 – Penalty for felony committed because of
victim’s race, color, religion, nationality, country of origin,
ancestry, disability or sexual orientation shall be enhanced one,
two or three years in prison, if the person acts alone; and 2, 3 or
4 years if the person commits the act with another.
Note: If the criminal offense was not committed because of bias, an
appropriate criminal charge can nonetheless be filed.