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Hate Crimes

The San Diego Police Department takes reports of hate crimes very seriously and works swiftly to investigate and hold individuals who are committing these acts of violence accountable. SDPD works collaboratively with local, state and community partners to educate and prevent these crimes from happening in San Diego.   

Report a Hate Crime

In an emergency, call 9-1-1. Otherwise, dial the non-emergency line at 619-531-2000 to report the incident.

Actions to Take:

Obtain medical attention if needed. Be sure to keep all medical documentation.

Write down the hate language.

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 biased motivation and other information that may be valuable.

Get the names, addresses and phone numbers of other victims and witnesses.

Hate Crimes

A hate crime is a criminal act committed against another person that is motivated by prejudice against certain characteristics of that person. The California Penal Code outlines the following characteristics that may be considered in hate crime acts:

  • Disability
  • Gender
  • Nationality
  • Race or ethnicity
  • Religion
  • Sexual orientation
  • Association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics.

The California Penal Code also states in code 422.6(a) that it is unlawful to use force or threat of force to “willfully injure, intimidate, interfere with, oppress, or threaten any other person in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him or her by the constitution or laws” of California or the United States. Further, according to California Penal Code 422.6(b), it is a hate crime to “knowingly deface, damage, or destroy the real or personal property of any other person for the purpose of intimidating or interfering with the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to the other person” by the US Constitution or state law.

Hate Incidents

Generally, speech is not enough to charge a hate crime. To charge a hate crime, speech must threaten violence, target a specific person or group, and the offender must have the apparent ability to carry out the threat. Speech that does not meet these criteria, however ugly, intimidating, and upsetting, still does not meet criminal behavior. Behavior that may cause an individual to feel like a victim of a hate crime can be documented as a “Hate Incident.”


  • Not all expressions of hate or group bias rise to the level of a hate crime.

  • Derogatory words or epithets directed against a person or group, if not accompanied by a threat of harm with the ability to carry it out, are considered protected speech and NOT a hate crime.
  • There must be a specific target (victim).
  • Name-calling, when not accompanied by assault or threat with the ability to carry out, is NOT a hate crime.
  • Racially motivated rallies, leafletting and recruiting are protected by free speech laws and are NOT hate crimes - unless accompanied by threats with the ability to carry them out or violent acts occur.