What is a Hate Crime?
A hate crime is a criminal act directed at an individual or
group because of membership in a particular racial, religious, ethic or gender
group. Vandalism to a house of worship, assault on an individual, or a bombing
of a building - each may be a hate crime - if it meets any of the following
What You Should Know About Hate Crimes:
- When racial, religious or ethnic statements are made during the incident.
- When hate group symbols are displayed.
- When the motive of a crime is to harm, injure or intimidate a particular group or organization.
- When the victim perceives it to be a hate crime.
What federal laws protect me from hate crimes?
What are Maryland's hate crime laws and how can they protect me?
- Federal law addresses hate crimes primarily through civil rights statutes and includes the following:
Conspiracy Against Rights - Makes it illegal for two or more people to conspire to injure, threaten or intimidate someone in the exercise of any right provided by the U.S. Constitution.
- Prevention of Intimidation - Addresses of intimidation based on race and ethnicity in housing or the exercise of certain federally protected rights.
- In addition, federal law provides for increased sentences where a defendant selects a victim because of race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability or sexual orientation. When a hate crime results in bodily injury or fire is used the crime is a felony, and a capital crime if death results.
Maryland law addresses hate crime specifically through Article 27 470A - Religious and Ethnic Crimes. Most violent crime is prosecuted by the State.
It is illegal in Maryland, punishable by fine and/or imprisonment, for any person to vandalize or attempt to vandalize any religious property or to interfere by force or threat of force with any person in the exercise of their religious beliefs.
It is also forbidden to damage, destroy, burn or otherwise vandalize the property of a person or an institution because of their race or beliefs, or to harass or commit a crime against any person because of their "race, color, religious beliefs or national origin." The statute also provides an extra sentencing enhancement for those crimes motivated by hate.
I think I am a victim of a hate crime. What can I do?
How can I help?
- Report the incident to your local law enforcement agency or human relations commission. Even if you do not have any information on the suspects or there is no physical injury or property damage, your report will serve as important investigative information if a future incident were to occur.
- Do not destroy any evidence related to the crime. Keep all letters and answering machine tapes. Do not clean up any vandalism until the police arrive.
- Get help - your local victim assistance agencies and human relations commissions are here to help you.
- If you are a student, also report the crime to school administration.
Local and National Resources
- Work to strengthen and improve hate crime laws at the State and National level.
- Offer assistance by working with victims of hate crime.
- Learn how to educate your community about hate crimes.
Human Rights Agencies in Maryland
Hate Crimes Hotline
If you do not know who your local victim service providers are or you need to reach your local human rights enforcement agency, contact the Maryland Hate Crimes Hotline at:
Provided by the Maryland Commission on Human Relations.
The Maryland Online Hate Crime Resource Center is a service of the Web Based Public Safety Information Access Project of the
Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services
. Project Director and Webmaster is
Raymond A. Franklin
We are interested in your comments. Contact the Webmaster at
Revised: October 27, 2004