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Hate Crimes

What is a Hate Crime?

According to California state law, hate crime charges are filed when there is evidence that bias, hatred, or prejudice based on the victim's real or perceived race/ethnicity, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, gender, or sexual orientation is a substantial factor in the commission of the offense. This definition is codified in the California penal code sections 422.55 to 422.95 pertaining to hate crime.

Evidence of such bias, hatred, or prejudice can be direct or circumstantial. It can occur before, during, or after the commission of the offense.

Hate speech is a criminal offense when the speaker/writer has threatened violence against a specific person or group of persons. The threat must be immediate and unequivocal. The aggressor must also have the ability to carry out that threat.

Frequently, derogatory words or epithets are directed against a member of a protected class, but no violence is threatened and there is no apparent ability to harm the target. Such hate incidents are important indicators of intergroup tensions. They are not, however, criminal offenses. Such language is protected by free speech rights set forth in the California and U.S. constitutions.

Commission Initiatives to Address Hate Crimes

The Commission’s programs that are designed, at least in part, to prevent and respond to hate violence in Los Angeles County include:


View Archive HateCrime Reports