What is the Difference Between a Hate Crime and a Hate Incident?

Chief Shields addressed Hate Crimes vs Hate Incidents during his 10-8 program on February 9, 2022. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWUBUxV6srE (start at 19:25).

More information is available on the State of California Department of Justice website at https://oag.ca.gov/hatecrimes

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.

Fact sheets are available in multiple languages at https://oag.ca.gov/hatecrimes