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Hate Crime FAQ's
What is a hate crime?
A hate crime is an act motivated by prejudice or bias. To be a hate crime, the act must be criminal - not a mere expression of an intolerant opinion. Certain offenses become hate crimes because of what motivated the criminal act. When certain crimes are committed because of a victim's real or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, or ancestry a hate crime has been committed in Pennsylvania.

What should I do if I am a victim of a hate crime?
Contact the police immediately by calling 911 or go to your local police station. You can also call the Philadelphia Police Victim Services Unit at (215) 685-1158 for information regarding your rights as a victim and how they can help you.

How are charges filed and what will happen to the case?
The police will investigate, prepare a report, and, where possible, arrest the perpetrator. When the police have completed their investigation, the case will be reviewed by the District Attorney's Office, which will determine the appropriate charges and prosecute the case. A judge will set bail for the defendant and prescribe conditions to protect you and others. After a preliminary hearing, the case will be assigned to a trial judge. An assistant district attorney is often assigned to specially prosecute the case and trained victim services coordinators will assist you at every stage of the proceedings.

What if it's not a crime, but still hate-related?
If you were the target of a non-criminal bias act, you can contact the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations (PCHR). PCHR responds to acts of bias and interpersonal or community conflict in multiple ways including mediation, facilitated discussions, and convening meetings with all affected parties to begin the healing process. When a discriminatory act occurs in the workplace or public accommodation, PCHR can enforce the City’s anti-discrimination laws. To contact PCHR, call 215-686-4670 or email them at pchr@phila.gov. PCHR also has an anonymous hotline at 215-686-2856.

Does the law treat hate crimes differently than other crimes?
Yes. For example, under the Ethnic Intimidation Act (Act 154 of 1982, 18 Pa. C.S. sec2710) crimes motivated by bias or hate can effectively be elevated to a more serious crime with a more severe penalty.

What are examples of possible hate crimes?

  • Physical assault
  • Destruction of Property
  • Cross Burnings
  • Criminal Trespass
  • Arson or Firebombing
  • Terroristic Threats
  • Vandalism
  • Harassment
  • Stalking
  • Harassment by Telephone