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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, ancestry, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity, 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. Call the Police Conflict Prevention and Resolution Unit (CPR) at (215) 685-3693 or go to their offices located at 100 East Lehigh Avenue. The CPR Unit was established by the Philadelphia Police Department to investigate hate crimes and to assist victims.

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 other help is available besides criminal prosecution?
Since a victim of a hate crime may bring a civil suit for damages - regardless of a criminal prosecution - you may wish to discuss your case with a private attorney or legal services agency.

The Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations (PCHR) can provide preventative services and can help victims deal with the aftermath and consequences of a hate crime. To reach PCHR, call (215) 686-4692. There are also private agencies in Philadelphia that can help you. PCHR, The Conflict Prevention and Resolution (CPR) Unit (215) 685-3693, and the victim services coordinators in the District Attorney's Office (215) 686-8027, can refer you to an appropriate private agency.

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