Hate crimes are criminal acts or attempted criminal acts against an individual, a group of individuals, or society as a whole. Because of their actual or perceived race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, or disability. The victim of a hate crime can also be a business or institution.
Some hate crimes include but are not limited to:
- Using force or threatening to use force to injure, intimidate, or interfere with another person who is exercising his or her constitutional rights
- Defacing or damaging another person’s property to intimidate or interfere with that person’s free exercise of his or her constitutional rights
- Desecrating a religious symbol or displaying a swastika on another person’s property with the intent to terrorize another person
- Vandalizing, burning, or bombing a church, synagogue, mosque, or other house of worship to terrorize other persons
- “The Ralph Act,” Civil Code sections 51.7 and 52 protects individuals from hate crimes. It provides that it is a civil right for a person to be free of violence or its threat against the person or his or her property, because of a person’s race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, political affiliation, sex, sexual orientation, age or disability or position in a labor dispute, or because a person is perceived to have one or more of these characteristics.
Violating the right granted by The Ralph Act may result in jail time and being charged with a misdemeanor or a felony or both. The penalties and the severity of penalties are determined case by case because the facts and circumstances of each case are different.