Hate Crimes

Crimes motivated by hate are not just attacks on individual innocent people – they are attacks on our communities and the entire State. It is the job of Attorney General Rob Bonta to see that the laws of the State are uniformly and adequately enforced.

The California Department of Justice (Department) has tools and resources to aid and assist local, state, and federal law enforcement authorities in the investigation of possible hate crimes, including the identification, arrest, prosecution, and conviction of the perpetrators of those crimes. If you wish to report a crime, please file a report with the local police or sheriff's department.

What Californians Need to Know to Protect Themselves and Others

A hate crime is a crime against a person, group, or property motivated by the victim's real or perceived protected social group. You may be the victim of a hate crime if you have been targeted because of your actual or perceived: (1) disability, (2) gender, (3) nationality, (4) race or ethnicity, (5) religion, (6) sexual orientation, and (7) association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics. Hate crimes are serious crimes that may result in imprisonment or jail time.

A hate incident is an action or behavior motivated by hate but which, for one or more reasons, is not a crime. Examples of hate incidents include:

  • Name-calling
  • Insults
  • Displaying hate material on your own property.
  • Posting hate material that does not result in property damage.
  • Distribution of materials with hate messages in public places.

The U.S. Constitution allows hate speech as long as it does not interfere with the civil rights of others. While these acts are certainly hurtful, they do not rise to the level of criminal violations and thus may not be prosecuted. However, it is important to note that these incidents have a traumatic impact on the victims as well as on the community at large.

In California, under the Ralph Act, Civil Code § 51.7, your civil rights may be violated if you have been subjected to hate violence or the threat of violence – even where the incident does not rise to the level of a hate crime and may be otherwise constitutionally-protected from prosecution by the government – because of your actual or perceived: sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sexual orientation, citizenship, primary language, immigration status, political affiliation, and position in a labor dispute. A civil violation may result in restraining orders, injunctive and/or equitable relief, damages, a civil penalty of $25,000, and attorney’s fees.

Signs that a crime was motivated by hate may include:

  • The offender chose the victim or property because they belonged to a protected group, like a certain religion or gender.
  • The offender made written or verbal comments showing a prejudice.
  • The crime happened on a date that is important for the victim's or offender’s protected group.
  • There is organized hate activity in the area.

  • Contact the local law enforcement agency away.
  • Get medical attention (if you need it).
  • Write down the exact words that were said.
  • Make notes about any other facts.
  • Save all evidence (e.g., graffiti, eggshells, writing on victim's vehicle). If safe, wait until law enforcement arrives and takes photos.
  • Get the names, addresses, phone numbers, and emails of other victims and witnesses.
  • Try to get a description from any eyewitnesses of the criminal or the vehicle.
  • Contact community organizations in your area that respond to hate crimes.

The California Victims' Bill of Rights Act, known as Marsy's Law, gives you these important legal rights:

  • Get money for your losses. Apply for money to cover your property losses, medical expenses, lost wages, and other losses.
  • Say how the crime impacted you. Tell the court how the crime impacted your life before the defendant is sentenced.
  • Get information about the criminal case. Ask the prosecutor for certain information about the case.
  • Get orders from the court. The court can make orders that could help you, such as a protective order to keep the defendant away from you or an order to pay attorney fees if you hired a lawyer to help with your case.

    The court may also order the defendant to pay you $25,000 or more for violating your civil rights. (Talk to a lawyer about your rights under the Ralph Act and the Bane Act.)
  • California law prohibits law enforcement authorities from asking individuals, including those who are reporting or are victims of potential crimes, about their immigration status, unless the information is necessary to certify the victim for a U visa (victim of crime visa) or T visa (victim of human trafficking visa).
  • Speak out against hate and intolerance.
  • Have community rallies to support victims.
  • Offer support and help to victims.
  • Ask public officials to speak out against hate crimes.
  • Establish a human relations commission or hate crime network that includes law enforcement, local government, schools, religious organizations and community organizations. Ask them to respond to hate crimes immediately when they happen and to promote prevention and awareness.

Every year, thousands of bias-motivated acts, commonly referred to as "hate crimes" or "hate incidents" are committed across America. Generally, any criminal act motivated by a specific bias against a victim's actual or perceived protected characteristic is a hate crime. A bias-motivated act that does not rise to the level of a crime is called a "hate incident." Hate crimes are prosecuted by city attorneys and district attorneys under California's penal code, while hate incidents can be the subject of civil lawsuits under California's civil code.

For more information please visit: https://oag.ca.gov/civil/preveduc

California Attorney General's
Victims' Services Unit
(877) 433-9069
TTY: (800) 735-2929
www.oag.ca.gov/victimservices

California Department of Fair Employment and Housing
(800) 884-1684
TTY: (800) 700-2320
www.dfeh.ca.gov

California Association of Human Relations Organizations
(213) 639-6089
www.cahro.org

California Victim Compensation Board
(800) 777-9229
www.vcgcb.ca.gov

Find Your Local District Attorney's Office,
Victim/Witness Assistance Center
www.vcgcb.ca.gov/victims/localhelp.aspx

U.S. Department of Justice, Community Relations Services
(202) 305-2935
www.justice.gov/crs

For more information, or help with questions or concerns, contact:
California Attorney General's Office Victims' Services Unit
P.O. Box 944255
Sacramento, CA 94244-2550
(877) 433-9069
www.oag.ca.gov/victimservices

The Attorney General issued an information bulletin to law enforcement agencies across California, outlining state laws that prohibit hate crimes and other hate-related acts.

The bulletin is designed to ensure that state and local law enforcement officials across California have the necessary information and tools to respond appropriately and swiftly to hate crime activity.

To view the latest bulletin visit: FINAL-BULLETIN-HATE-CRIMES-LAWS-IB-2021-DLE-05, pdf

The Attorney General issued guidance to prosecutors across California, providing information to assist prosecutors in carrying out their responsibilities.

The guidance is designed to ensure that prosecutors across California have the necessary information and tools to provide a full understanding regarding the handling of hate crime prosecutions, being mindful of the need for a victim-centered approach and restorative practices.

To view the guidance visit: Prosecutor Guidance, pdf

The California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) has developed guidance and a model policy framework to assist law enforcement in identifying and handling crimes motivated by hate and bias and to help ensure accurate and timely reporting of hate crimes.

https://post.ca.gov/Portals/0/post_docs/publications/Hate_Crimes.pdf

California Civil Rights Department (CRD)

Contact: StopHate@CalCivilRights.CA.gov; 833-8-NO-HATE (833-866-4283)
Website: https://stophate.calcivilrights.ca.gov

The California Civil Rights Department will host the CA vs. Hate Resource Line and Network (CA vs. Hate) will begin providing services on November 1, 2022 through a “soft launch.” During this time, CA vs. Hate will: (1) help individuals and communities targeted for hate identify options for next steps after a hate incident or crime, (2) connect people targeted for hate with culturally competent resources; and (3) collect data that people feel comfortable sharing regarding hate incidents and crimes to support ongoing efforts to improve hate incident and crime reporting and data to enhance hate crimes prevention and response.

CA vs. Hate will welcome input and suggestions on its portal, resource line and network, and services during the soft launch. In early Spring 2023, CA vs. Hate will have a “hard” launch that will incorporate community and user feedback and will be accompanied by a statewide multilingual outreach and marketing campaign.

CRD is a state department with a long history of enforcing civil rights protections outside the context of the criminal legal system. This includes enforcement of the Ralph Act; if you have been targeted for hate violence and threats, you can file a civil complaint with CRD against the person who harmed you. You may be able to collect money damages or obtain a restraining order.

If you contact CA vs. Hate, CRD will help identify these and other options for next steps that respect the needs of the people seeking support. For those who would like to connect with law enforcement, CRD can help provide information about the process and connect with law enforcement. For those who do not feel safe connecting with criminal law enforcement authorities, CRD will identify other civil legal options (both through CRD and other agencies) and other ways to access resources and support.

CRD is also proud to be home to the Commission on the State of Hate, a nine-member statewide commission appointed by the Governor, the Speaker of the Assembly and the Senate Committee on Rules. Beginning next year, the Commission will do the following: (1) Develop a rigorous, comprehensive accounting of hate activity in California; (2) Host community forums on the state of hate in California; and (3) Provide resources and guidance to communities and government officials on how to effectively reduce and respond to hate activity.

California Department of Education (CDE)

Contact: antibiasgrants@cde.ca.gov
Website: https://www.cde.ca.gov/pd/ps/antibiasgrant.asp

Antibias Education Grant Program
The purpose of the Antibias Education Grant Program is to prevent, address, and eliminate racism and bias in all California public schools, and making all public schools inclusive and supportive of all people.

An Antibias Education Grant shall be used for training and resources to prevent and address bias or prejudice toward any group of people based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, immigration status, language, or any actual or perceived characteristic listed in Section 422.55 of the Penal Code. Emphasis shall be on preventing anti-Semitism and bias or prejudice toward groups, including, but not limited to, African Americans, Asian-Pacific Islanders, Latinos, and people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning youth.

California Department of Social Services (CDSS)

Contact: HIU@dss.ca.gov
Website: https://cdss.ca.gov/inforesources/cdss-programs/civil-rights/care-funding

Stop the Hate Program Funding
California Government Code § 8260 authorizes the CDSS, in consultation with the Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs (CAPIAA), to provide grants to qualified organizations to provide support and services to victims and survivors of hate incidents and hate crimes and their families and facilitate hate incident or hate crime prevention measures.

Funded Activities may include:

  • Direct services for victims and survivors of hate incidents and their families, including legal services; navigation and case management; mental and complementary health services; and wellness and community healing;
  • Prevention activities, including arts and cultural work, youth development, senior safety and escort programs, safety planning training; and cross-racial alliance work; and
  • Interventions, including outreach, training, restorative justice, and coordination with local government and institutional partners.

California State Library (CSL)

Contact: ethnicmedia@library.ca.gov
Website: https://www.library.ca.gov/grants/ethnic-media/

Ethnic Media Outreach Grants
The California State Library, in partnership with the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs (CAPIAA), allocated funding to help ethnic media outlets and organizations that serve communities that are historically vulnerable to hate incidents and hate crimes because of their ethnic, racial, religious, gender/gender expression, sexual orientation, or other identities.

California Office of Emergency Services (CalOES)

Contact: Nonprofit Security Grant Program:NonProfit.Security.Grant@CalOES.ca.gov
California State Nonprofit Security Grant Program: CSNSGP@caloes.ca.gov
Website: https://www.caloes.ca.gov/office-of-the-director/policy-administration/finance-administration/grants-management/homeland-security-emergency-management-programs/infrastructure-protection-grants/

Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP)
NSGP funding is focused on target hardening activities, and to support physical security enhancements and other security activities to nonprofit organizations that are at high risk of a terrorist attack. NSGP funds may also be used for security-related training courses and programs, exercises, and planning activities. Eligible nonprofit organizations are those organizations that are described under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (IRC) and exempt from tax under section 501(a) of such code. The NSGP also promotes emergency preparedness coordination and collaboration activities between public and private community representatives, as well as state and local government agencies.

California State Nonprofit Security Grant Program (CSNSGP)
The purpose of the CSNSGP is to provide funding support for physical security enhancements and other security-related activities to nonprofit organizations that are at high risk for violent attacks and hate crimes due to ideology, beliefs, or mission. The CSNSGP seeks to integrate the preparedness activities of nonprofit organizations with broader state and local preparedness efforts. The CSNSGP also promotes emergency preparedness coordination and collaboration activities between public and private community representatives, as well as state and local government agencies.

Attorney General Bonta's Hate Crime Rapid Response Protocol

To ensure that local law enforcement officials have the resources they need to respond to major hate crime events, the Attorney General’s office has developed the Attorney General's Hate Crime Rapid Response Protocol. The protocol calls for the prioritization of resources to ensure that the California Department of Justice makes available to locals skilled law enforcement special agents, lawyers who are experts on handling civil rights issues, victim services professionals, and others, in order to provide a comprehensive response to major incidents.

The Attorney General's Hate Crime Rapid Response Protocol acts as a supplemental resource to local, state, and federal enforcement agencies' investigation and prosecution of hate crimes. The Protocol ensures local agencies have access to the full resources of the Department of Justice at their disposal. Attorney General Bonta believes that through a strong cooperative and team effort, state, local, and federal law enforcement agencies will be in the best position to quickly and effectively respond to major hate crime incidents anywhere in California.

View the protocols: Protocol for Deployment of Department of Justice Resources

Hate Crime Materials

Brochure

The Attorney General has developed a hate crime brochure with information on how to identify and report hate crimes and services available to victims of hate crimes.

For convenience, the brochure is available in two formats and is available in the following languages:

In addition, the Attorney General has adapted the hate crime brochure to encourage local community groups and LEA’s to customize the hate crime brochure. Below is the template with editable fields to add an agency logo, contact information and any additional information that might be relevant for their respective community. Hate Crime Brochure Template

Hate Crimes Shareable Graphics

Hate Crime Shareable Graphic in English

Below are shareable graphics with information on where to report hate crimes, definition of a hate crime and a hate incident and steps an individual can take if they are a victim of a hate crime.

The graphics are available in the following languages:

All Languages Download
Arabic Download
Armenian (Eastern) Download
Cambodian Download
Chinese (Traditional) Download
English Download
Hindi Download
Hmong Download
Japanese Download
Korean Download
Punjabi Download
Russian Download
Spanish Download
Tagalog Download
Vietnamese Download

Annual Hate Crimes Report

The Attorney General publishes the Hate Crime in California Report annually assessing the number of hate crime events, hate crime offenses, hate crime victims, and hate crime suspects.

This report highlights hate crime trends, including the most common types of hate crimes broken down by protected class, as well as by city and county. The report puts these statistics in historical perspective by providing trend information on the number and types of hate crimes over the past ten years.

More information, including an analysis of the number and types of hate crimes over the past decade, can be found on the Attorney General's OpenJustice website.