A hate crime is defined as a crime motivated by bigotry and intended to hurt and/or intimidate someone because of his or her race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, disability or national origin. Hate crimes can be described as acts designed to terrorize a particular community. Even if only one individual is victimized, the intent is to express hatred towards that person’s entire community. Also known as bias crimes, hate crimes can range from verbal threats of violence, vandalism, arson, or express acts of physical violence (assault).
Although hate crimes are, as their name implies, crimes, they can also be civil rights violations. If you are the victim of a hate crime, you can and should report the incident to the police, who may pursue criminal charges against the perpetrator. Victims of hate crimes may also be entitled to civil, monetary compensation for damage to property, loss of wages, bodily injury, and more.
Often, people who commit hate crimes are seeking a thrill, without regard to the consequences of their actions. However, to others, hatred and bigotry are very real motivating factors. Although typically one might think of straight white males as the primary perpetrators of hate crimes, they can be perpetrated by a person of any race, gender, or sexual orientation.
Most hate crimes are racially or ethnically motivated according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. However, about 22 percent of victims are targeted due to their sexual orientation. Seventeen percent of victims are targeted because of their religion, and the rest are targeted due to some actual or perceived disability.
Too many hate crimes go unreported, often because the victims believe that the community will not take any action to protect them. If you believe that you are the victim of a hate crime, or know someone else who has been targeted, you should contact the FBI and/or your local police department. Hate crimes can be difficult to prove in a criminal context, because the prosecutor must establish that the offender acted with hateful intent. If you have been victimized, you may be able to recover damages in a civil lawsuit. To preserve evidence, write down everything that happened immediately following the incident. If you have medical bills or have sustained property damage, keep all records of costs incurred. Take down the names and contact information of any witnesses and take photographs if applicable.
If you have been targeted due to your race, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, disability, or religion, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages. The Philadelphia civil rights lawyers at Williams Cedar can help you hold the responsible parties accountable for their hateful actions. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, call us today at 215-557-0099 or contact us online today. From our offices in Haddonfield, New Jersey and Philadelphia, we represent clients throughout South Jersey and the greater Philadelphia area and nationwide.