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Hate Crimes

It is the right of every person regardless of race, color, creed, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation, to be secure and protected from fear, intimidation, and physical harm caused by the activities of violent groups and individuals. All reported cases of hate crimes will be fully investigated by the Sheriff's Department.

What is a hate crime?

A hate crime (California Penal Code '422.6) is an act, an attempted act, or a threatened act by any person or group of persons to cause physical injury, emotional suffering or property damage against the person of property of another individual or group which is or appears to be motivated, all or in part, by race, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. These crimes include, but are not limited to, racist, homophobic, and/or religious graffiti, destruction of other religious symbols, cross burnings, physical assaults, or criminal threats of violence against an individual or a group.

A hate incident is behavior that is motivated by hate or bias towards a person’s actual or perceived disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation but that is not criminal in nature. Typically these behaviors are protected by the First Amendment right to freedom of expression. If this type of activity escalates to threats being made or carried out against a person or property, or becomes an incitement to commit violence it would be classified as a hate crime. Examples – the distribution of non-threatening racist flyers in a public place; displaying non-threatening anti-gay or lesbian placards at a parade or funeral; writing a letter to the editor ridiculing people with disabilities; painting racist graffiti on a freeway overpass.

What should I do if I am victimized?

  • In an emergency, call 911. Otherwise, call OCSD dispatch at (714) 647-7000 to make a report. 
  • Obtain medical attention, if needed. Be sure to keep all medical documentation.
  • Leave all evidence in place. Do not touch, remove or clean up anything. 
  • Document what happened. Take photographs of the evidence, writing down exactly what was said, particularly any words that indicate bias motivation, and other information that may be valuable.
  • Get the name(s), address(es) and phone number(s) of other victims and witnesses.
  • If possible, write down a description of the perpetrator and the perpetrator’s vehicle.

Additional resources

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department partners with the local nonprofit, Groundswell and the Orange County Human Relations Commission which has a mission to seek out the causes of tension and conflict, discrimination and intolerance and attempt to eliminate those causes. For more information, call (714) 480-6570.