hate crime | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction

A Hate Crime is a crime motivated by racial or other prejudice; often violent.

A hate crime is a criminal offense committed against a person, property, or group that is motivated by bias or prejudice based on the victim’s perceived or actual characteristics, such as race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or disability. These crimes can range from verbal harassment to physical assault, and they often have a significant impact on not only the victim but also the targeted community. Hate crimes can be committed by individuals, groups, or even institutions, and they are considered a serious problem in many societies.

The motive is to harm or intimidate individuals or groups based on their perceived characteristics. These crimes are not only directed at the immediate victim but also send a message to the targeted group that they are not welcome or safe in a particular community. These crimes can create a climate of fear and tension, leading to social and economic disadvantages for the targeted group.

Hate crimes can take many forms, including property damage, harassment, intimidation, assault, and even murder. They can be committed against individuals, groups, or institutions, and they can be carried out by individuals, groups, or even entire communities. Hate crimes can occur in any setting, including schools, workplaces, and public spaces, and they can have a long-lasting impact on the victim and the community.

In the United States, these crimes are considered to be an aggravating factor that can increase the severity of a criminal offense. The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 expanded the definition of hate crimes to include crimes based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability, in addition to race, religion, and national origin. The law also provides federal assistance to state and local law enforcement agencies investigating and prosecuting hate crimes.

To combat hate crimes, many countries have implemented laws and policies to increase penalties and provide support and protection for victims. Education and awareness campaigns have also been established to promote understanding and tolerance and to discourage prejudice and discrimination.

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Last Modified: 04/09/2023

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