Information About Hate Crimes

A Hate Crime is a criminal offense that manifests evidence that the victim was intentionally selected because of the perpetrator’s bias against the victim. Although there are many possible categories of bias, under the Clery Act, only the following eight categories are reported:

  • Race. A preformed negative attitude toward a group of persons who possess common physical characteristics, e.g., color of skin, eyes, and/or hair; facial features, etc., genetically transmitted by descent and heredity which distinguish them as a distinct division of humankind, e.g., Asians, blacks or African Americans, whites.
  • Religion. A preformed negative opinion or attitude toward a group of persons who share the same religious beliefs regarding the origin and purpose of the universe and the existence or nonexistence of a supreme being, e.g., Catholics, Jews, Protestants, atheists.
  • Sexual Orientation. A preformed negative opinion or attitude toward a group of persons based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation. Sexual Orientation is the term for a person’s physical, romantic, and/or emotional attraction to members of the same and/or opposite sex, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and heterosexual (straight) individuals.
  • Gender. A preformed negative opinion or attitude toward a person or group of persons based on their actual or perceived gender, e.g., male or female.
  • Gender Identity. A preformed negative opinion or attitude toward a person or group of persons based on their actual or perceived gender identity, e.g., bias against transgender or gender non-conforming individuals. Gender non-conforming describes a person who does not conform to the gender-based expectations of society, e.g., a woman dressed in traditionally male clothing or a man wearing makeup. A gender non-conforming person may or may not be a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender person but may be perceived as such.
  • Ethnicity. A preformed negative opinion or attitude toward a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, common culture (often including a shared religion) and/or ideology that stresses common ancestry. The concept of ethnicity differs from the closely related term “race” in that “race” refers to a grouping based mostly upon biological criteria, while “ethnicity” also encompasses additional cultural factors.
  • National Origin. A preformed negative opinion or attitude toward a group of people based on their actual or perceived country of birth. This bias may be against people that have a name or accent associated with a national origin group, participate in certain customs associated with a national origin group, or because they are married to or associate with people of a certain national origin.
  • Disability. A preformed negative opinion or attitude toward a group of persons based on their physical or mental impairments, whether such disability is temporary or permanent, congenital or acquired by heredity, accident, injury, advanced age or illness.

For Clery Act purposes, Hate Crimes include any of the following offenses that are motivated by bias.

  • Murder and Non-negligent Manslaughter
  • Sexual Assault
  • Robbery
  • Aggravated Assault
  • Burglary
  • Motor Vehicle Theft
  • Arson
  • Larceny-Theft
  • Simple Assault
  • Intimidation
  • Destruction/Damage/Vandalism of Property

The first seven offenses are defined and discussed in the Criminal Offenses section earlier in this chapter. In addition to those offenses, Larceny-Theft, Simple Assault, Intimidation, and Destruction/Damage/Vandalism of Property are included in your Clery Act statistics only if they are Hate Crimes.

1. Larceny-Theft is the unlawful taking, carrying, leading or riding away of property from the possession or constructive possession of another. (Larceny and theft mean the same thing in the UCR.) Constructive possession is the condition in which a person does not have physical custody or possession, but is in a position to exercise dominion or control over a thing.

Classify as Larceny:

  • Thefts of bicycles or automobile accessories.
  • Shoplifting.
  • Pocket-picking.
  • The stealing of any property or article that is not taken by force and violence or by fraud.
  • Any of the above regardless of the value of the item or items taken (For example, include the unlawful taking of a parking sticker that is peeled off a car windshield.)
  • Attempted larcenies.

Do not classify as Larceny:

  • Motor Vehicle Theft.
  • Attempted Motor Vehicle Theft.
  • Embezzlement.
  • Confidence games.
  • Forgery.
  • Worthless checks.

2. Simple Assault is an unlawful physical attack by one person upon another where neither the offender displays a weapon, nor the victim suffers obvious severe or aggravated bodily injury involving apparent broken bones, loss of teeth, possible internal injury, severe laceration, or loss of consciousness.

Include all assaults that do not involve the use of a firearm, knife, cutting instrument or other dangerous weapon, and in which the victim did not sustain serious or aggravated injuries.

3. Intimidation is to unlawfully place another person in reasonable fear of bodily harm through the use of threatening words and/or other conduct, but without displaying a weapon or subjecting the victim to actual physical attack.

A person is assumed to be placed in “reasonable fear” if he or she reports threatening words or other conduct to law enforcement personnel. To be the victim of Intimidation, one doesn’t have to be the intended target of the offender. For example, a person who reports seeing anti-gay threats on a bathroom wall to law enforcement is considered a victim. (For the Intimidation to be considered a Hate Crime there would have to be other supporting evidence of bias as well.) Include in this category cyber-intimidation if the victim is threatened via electronic means while on your Clery Act geography.

4. Destruction/Damage/Vandalism of Property is to willfully or maliciously destroy, damage, deface, or otherwise injure real or personal property without the consent of the owner or the person having custody or control of it.

Classify as Destruction/Damage/Vandalism of Property

A wide range of malicious behavior directed at property, such as:

  • Cutting auto tires.
  • Drawing obscene pictures on restroom walls.
  • Smashing windows.
  • Destroying school records.
  • Defacing library books.

Do not classify as Destruction/Damage/Vandalism of Property:

Incidents of burning that willfully or maliciously destroy, damage or deface property. Classify such incidents as Arson.

Classifying a crime as a Hate Crime is sometimes difficult. The following information adapted from the FBI’s Hate Crime Data Collection Guidelines and Training Manual should be useful in guiding you.

Before an incident can be classified as a Hate Crime, sufficient objective facts must be present to lead a reasonable and prudent person to conclude that the offender’s actions were motivated, in whole or in part, by bias. While no single fact may be conclusive, facts such as the following, particularly when combined, are supportive of a finding of bias:

  1. The offender and the victim were of a different race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, national origin, gender or gender identity. For example, the victim was African American and the offender was white.
  2. Bias-related oral comments, written statements or gestures were made by the offender, that indicate the offender’s bias. For example, the offender shouted a racial epithet at the victim.
  3. Bias-related drawings, markings, symbols or graffiti were left at the crime scene. For example, a swastika was painted on the door of a synagogue, anti-Islamic statements on the wall of a mosque, or anti-gay graffiti on the door of an LGBTQ center.
  4. Certain objects, items or things which indicate bias were used. For example, the offenders taped a photo of a burning cross to the door of an African American student’s dorm room.
  5. The victim is a member of a racial, religious, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, national origin, gender or gender identity group that is overwhelmingly outnumbered by other residents in the student housing facility where the victim lives and the incident took place. This factor loses significance with the passage of time (i.e., it is most significant when the victim first moved into the facility, and becomes less and less significant as time passes without incident).
  6. Several incidents occurred in the same location at or about the same time, and the victims were all of the same race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, national origin, gender or gender identity.
  7. A substantial portion of the campus community where the crime occurred perceived that the incident was motivated by bias.
  8. The victim was engaged in activities related to his or her race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, national origin, gender or gender identity. For example, the victim was a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) or participated in an LGBTQ Pride celebration.
  9. The incident coincided with a holiday or a date of particular significance relating to a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, national origin, gender or gender identity, e.g., Martin Luther King Day, Rosh Hashanah or the Transgender Day of Remembrance.
  10. The offender was previously involved in a similar Hate Crime or is a hate group member.
  11. There were indications that a hate group was involved. For example, a hate group claimed responsibility for the crime or was active on the campus.
  12. A historically established animosity existed between the victim’s and the offender’s groups.
  13. The victim, although not a member of the targeted racial, religious, disability, sexual-orientation, ethnic, national origin, gender or gender identity group, was a member of an advocacy group supporting the precepts of the victim group.

Additional considerations in determining whether an incident is a Hate Crime:

  • Need for a case-by-case assessment of the facts. The aforementioned factors are not all-inclusive of the types of objective facts that evidence bias motivation. Therefore, examine each case for facts that clearly provide evidence that the offender’s bias motivated him or her to commit the crime.
  • Misleading facts. Be alert to misleading facts. For example, the offender used an epithet to refer to the victim’s race, but the offender and victim were of the same race.
  • Feigned facts. Be alert to evidence left by the offenders that is meant to give the false impression that the incident was motivated by bias. For example, students of a religious school vandalize their own school, leaving anti-religious statements and symbols on its walls in the hope that they will be excused from attending class.
  • Offender’s mistaken perception. Even if the offender was mistaken about the victim’s race, religion, disability, sexual-orientation, ethnicity, national origin, gender or gender identity, the offense is still a Hate Crime as long as the offender was motivated by bias against that group. For example, a non-gay student leaving a publicized LGBTQ meeting in a noncampus fraternity house is followed back to campus and attacked behind a dorm by six teenagers who mistakenly believed the victim is gay. Although the offenders were mistaken, the offense is a Hate Crime because it was motivated by the offenders’ anti-gay bias.

Remember, it is the perception of the offender, not the perception of the victim that determines whether a crime is classified as a Hate Crime. Also, knowing that an offender is prejudiced is not enough to classify a crime as a Hate Crime. There must be evidence that the offender was motivated by that prejudice to commit the crime.