Hate Crimes

Hate crimes are defined as crimes that are motivated by an offender’s bias towards actual or perceived characteristics of people, organizations, or property. The FBI has been collecting data on hate crimes as part of the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program since 1991, and as of 2022 the FBI collects information on 34 separate bias types based on race/ethnicity/ancestry, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender, and gender identity.[1] To be considered a hate crime by the FBI’s standards, the crime must be one of a limited number of specific offenses: murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, rape, aggravated assault, simple assault, intimidation, human trafficking/commercial sex acts, human trafficking/involuntary servitude, robbery, burglary, larceny-theft, motor-vehicle theft, arson, or destruction/damage/vandalism.[2]
 The hate crimes data have similar limitations to crimes data (see Crime Rate); many factors influence the number of crimes reported and the crime must have been reported to the police. However, not all crime is reported. Between 2015 and 2019, approximately 42% of violent hate crimes were not reported in the United States.[3] Victims of hate crimes may be afraid to report the incident or cooperate with the police due to fear of further victimization or stigmatization.[4] Additionally, a crime may only be reported by the responding police department to the FBI as a hate crime “if investigation reveals sufficient objective facts to lead a reasonable and prudent person to conclude that the offender’s actions were motivated, in whole or in part, by bias”[5] as determined first by the responding officer and corroborated by a second officer who makes a final determination about whether a hate crime occurred.[6] The evidence for this form of crime is frequently something the offender said or did during the attack (in crimes against persons) or the nature of the vandalism in crimes against property. If the offender is motivated by bias but does not say or do anything to that effect during the incident, then there is no evidence that the crime was motivated by bias and will not be recorded as such.
 As with all the UCR programs, participation is voluntary. Some police agencies do not report to the FBI’s hate crimes program at all, some only report in some years, and some only report on some bias motivations.[7] This leaves four distinct decision points where hate crimes can “fall out” of official reporting: victims can choose not to report the crime to police, the responding officer may not recognize that a crime was motivated by bias or may not report it as such, the second officer may determine there was not sufficient evidence to determine a crime was motivated by bias or may not report it as a hate crime, or the police agency itself may not participate fully or at all in the UCR hate crimes program. As such, the data reported in this report are likely underestimating the true number of bias-motivated crimes committed. Also, the FBI only records information on the bias motivation of the crime and not demographic information about victims.[8] This and other problems with the hate crimes data make it impossible to calculate a rate of hate crimes.[9]
 Hate crime incidents may have more than one offender and more than one victim. Victims can be people, a business, a religious institution, government, or other types of organizations. One incident may also contain multiple types of criminal offenses; these data count incidents according to the most serious offense committed. This report only presents the total number of incidents classified as hate crimes in San Diego County by bias motivation (Figure 1) and offense type (Figure 2). Additional information about the hate crimes can be found on the State of California Department of Justice’s (DOJ) OpenJustice data portal.[10]
 There were a total of 89 hate crimes recorded in San Diego County in 2021: 71% were motivated by race, ethnicity, and/or ancestry, 21% by sexual orientation, and 8% by religion. No hate crimes motivated by gender, gender identity, or disability were reported in San Diego County in 2021, although that does not mean they did not occur. Of those motivated by race/ethnicity/ancestry, almost 50% of incidents were anti-Black or anti-African American (Table 1). 
When looking at hate crimes by offence type, 71% were violent crimes, the majority being aggravated assault, and 29% were property crimes, almost all being destruction, damage, and/or vandalism (Figure 2 and Table 2).

Data Information
Data Sources: California Department of Justice and FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program, 2021.
Each incident may have one or more offenders, one or more victims, and one or more crimes. One incident may also contain multiple types of criminal offenses; these data count incidents according to the most serious offense committed.
References
  1. Federal Bureau of Investigation. (n.d.). Hate Crime. Retrieved October 19, 2022, from https://www.fbi.gov/how-we-can-help-you/need-an-fbi-service-or-more-information/ucr/hate-crime
  2.   Smith, E. (2021). Hate crime recorded by law enforcement, 2010–2019 (NCJ 301554). Bureau of Justice Statistics. Retrieved from https://bjs.ojp.gov/sites/g/files/xyckuh236/files/media/document/hcrle1019.pdf
  3.   Kena, G., & Thompson, A. (2021). Hate crime victimization, 2005–2019 (No. NCJ300954). Bureau of Justice Statistics. Retrieved from https://bjs.ojp.gov/sites/g/files/xyckuh236/files/media/document/hcv0519_1.pdf
  4.   Pezzella, F. S., Fetzer, M. D., & Keller, T. (2019). The Dark Figure of Hate Crime Underreporting. American Behavioral Scientist, 0002764218823844. https://doi.org/10.1177/0002764218823844
  5.   Criminal Justice Information Services Division, Uniform Crime Reporting Program. (2022). Hate crime data collection guidelines and training manual, version 3.0. Federal Bureau of Investigation. Pg. 10. Retrieved from https://le.fbi.gov/file-repository/hate-crime-data-collection-guidelines-and-training-manual.pdf/view
  6.   Ibid.
  7.   Kaplan, J. (2022). Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program data: A practitioner’s guide. https://ucrbook.com/index.html
  8.   Hate crime offenders are often making assumptions about victims (such as their race, religion, sexual orientation, etc.) that may or may not be true. The bias motivation (for example, anti-gay), if evidence exists for it (for example, if the offender used a homophobic slur during the crime), is recorded but the actual sexual orientation (gender, race, etc.) of the victim is not.
  9.   Kena, G., & Thompson, A. (2021). Hate crime victimization, 2005–2019 (No. NCJ300954). Bureau of Justice Statistics. Retrieved from https://bjs.ojp.gov/sites/g/files/xyckuh236/files/media/document/hcv0519_1.pdf
  10.   California Department of Justice. (2023). State of California Department of Justice—OpenJustice. Retrieved April 3, 2023, from https://openjustice.doj.ca.gov/data
Return to Theme Page: Crime and the Legal System
Updated February 7, 2024