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Understanding Hate Crimes

Understanding Hate Crimes

Hate crimes have shaped American history and sparked movements like the Civil Rights Movement, Black Lives Matter, and Stonewall. These crimes are based in learned and inherent biases as well as historical contexts which make them one of the most complicated crimes. It’s important to understand the definition, history, and consequences for hate crimes. Keep reading to learn more.

What Is a Hate Crime?

According to the U.S. Department of Justice defines hate crimes as those which include criminal acts motivated by bias against a victim’s perceived or actual status. A person’s status may be based upon their race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or national origin.

Hate crimes often include violence such as assault or murder, vandalism, arson, or threats to cause harm. Assault and battery are commonly associated with hate crimes. Due to the nature of these crimes, they often go underreported which complicates statistical data and education regarding prevention.

There is also a small difference between hate crimes and hate incidents. A hate incident is an act of prejudice that does not involve violence, threats, or property damage. For example, a person using a slur to refer to a coworker is not necessarily a hate crime, but rather a hate incident. However, if the person uses a slur while threatening their coworker’s life, they could be charged with a hate crime.


The Federal Bureau of Investigation collects data regarding hate crimes by separating them into categories including:

  • Victims: Demographic data
  • Bias Motivation: Includes offensive types – there may be single-bias incidents, but most crimes are the result of a number of biases
  • Offenders: The number of offenders per year
  • Location: Ranging from churches, homes, or schools to sidewalks or unknown locations
  • Jurisdiction: Whether the crime was under federal or state jurisdiction

Using the above measures, the FBI gathered the following data in their most recent report:

  • In 2019, 7,314 hate crimes involving over 8,559 crimes were reported
  • 55.8% of reported incidents were motivated by race, ethnicity, or ancestry bias
  • 48.4% of race/ancestry/ethnicity incidents were motivated by anti-African American or anti-black bias
  • 60.3% of religious hate crimes were anti-Jewish
  • 62.2% of gender identity hate crimes were against gay males
  • 173 out of 224 gender identity offenses were against transgender individuals
  • 78.6% of hate crimes were directed at individuals


It’s important to recognize that despite underreporting, hate crimes are widespread and more prevalent than most people recognize. They are often violent, targeted at vulnerable populations, and reveal the deeply held biases of millions of people.

It is also important to recognize that false accusations can be damaging as well. When a person is wrongly accused of a hate crime, it diminishes the importance of preventing hateful acts against actual victims and can reallocate valuable resources to investigating crimes that never happened.

If you have been accused of a crime, contact The Draskovich Law Group. Join us for part two of our Understanding Hate Crimes series.


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