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Image of the words No Hate VA with the Attorney General of Virginia's seal as the letter 'O'

"No Virginian should be singled out for abuse, harassment, or mistreatment because of who they are, what they look like, how they worship, where they come from, or whom they love. Hate crimes violate the civil liberties of victims and are contrary to the founding principles of our Commonwealth and our country."

Attorney General Mark R. Herring

Hate crimes are crimes committed against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender's bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.

In 2015, there were 155 hate crime offenses reported in Virginia.

These included:

  • 41 assaults based on racial bias
  • 29 property or vandalism crimes based on racial bias
  • 14 property or vandalism crimes based on religious bias
  • 55 bias-motivated crimes against African-Americans
  • 8 anti-Jewish crimes
  • 7 anti-Islamic crimes
  • 11 crimes based on actual or perceived homosexuality against men
  • 13 crimes against persons based on a mental or developmental disability

See the Virginia State Police’s full report on hate crimes in Virginia

There are important state and federal laws that can protect you, your family, your business, and your congregation from mistreatment because of your race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin.

 [accordion theme="pepper-grinder" cssClass="accord" width="100%"] [item title="Kinds of Hate Crimes"]

Hate crimes often fall into two categories:


Crimes against persons—This could include assault, battery, or actual threats of violence or harm.


Crimes against property—This includes vandalism, arson, or burning or displaying objects with an intent to intimidate


Generally speaking, offensive speech, while inappropriate and unacceptable, does not constitute a hate crime, although actual threats of violence or harm are illegal and should be reported.

 

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  [item title="State and Federal Laws"]

Virginia law includes stiffer criminal penalties when a crime is motivated by a bias against the victim’s race, color, religion, or national origin.


It is also a crime in Virginia to intimidate a person or group of persons by burning crosses, placing swastikas on certain buildings, or displaying a noose.


These crimes are most often investigated by your local police department of sheriff’s department, and are prosecuted by your local Commonwealth’s Attorney. If you have been the victim of a hate crime, please report it to these offices as soon as possible, as well as federal authorities.


Federal law also provides enhanced criminal penalties for certain crimes that are motivated by a bias against one’s race, religion, disability, ethnic origin, or sexual orientation. These violations of federal law are investigated by the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice, and are prosecuted by United States Attorneys. If you have been the victim of a hate crime, please report it to these offices as soon as possible, as well as your local law enforcement authorities.

 

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  [item title="Housing Discrimination"]

Virginians are protected from discrimination by state and federal laws when renting or buying a home or apartment. Illegal discrimination can include refusal to sell or rent, discriminatory terms and conditions, discriminatory statements, refusals to make reasonable accommodations or modifications, and interference with your enjoyment of your home, such as intimidation, threats, or harassment.


These protections may also apply to housing-related services like financing or insurance.


If you believe you or someone you know has been the victim of illegal housing discrimination, you should preserve any evidence you have of the alleged discrimination by keeping copies of any audio or video recordings, text messages, or emails, noting witnesses, description of the property and persons engage in the discriminatory conduct, and preserving any documents related to the housing transaction. You should share such information and evidence with the agency that investigates your complaint of housing discrimination.


To report suspected housing discrimination because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status, disability, or elderliness, you should immediately contact Attorney General Herring’s Division of Human Rights or the Virginia Fair Housing Office

 

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[item title="Employment Discrimination"]

Virginians are protected from discrimination in employment, places of public accommodation, and educational institutions by the Virginia Human Rights Act and applicable federal laws. Specifically, the VHRA prohibits employers from denying someone a job or firing them , allowing hostile working environments, refusals to make reasonable accommodations for someone’s disability, or denial of services at places of public employment, including educational institutions, because of because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age, marital status, or disability.


If you believe that you or someone you know has experienced illegal employment discrimination or discrimination in a place of public accommodation, including educational institutions you should immediately contact the Division of Human Rights


You should also preserve any evidence you have of the alleged discrimination by keeping copies of any audio or video recordings, text messages, or emails, noting witnesses, description of the persons engage in the discriminatory conduct, and preserving any documents related to the alleged discrimination. You should share such information and evidence with the agency that investigates your complaint of housing discrimination.

 

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 [item title="How to Report a Hate Crime"]

If you are in immediate danger, call 911 immediately.


If you believe that you or someone you know has been the victim of a hate crime, you should immediately contact your local law enforcement agency or local Commonwealth’s Attorney.


You should also report these crimes to your local FBI office. To find your local office, click here: https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field, or complete the online form found here: https://tips.fbi.gov/.

Information on filing with other federal agencies that may be appropriate can be found here: 
https://www.justice.gov/

 

You should also preserve any evidence you have of the alleged hate crime by taking pictures of vandalism, keeping copies of any videos taken, noting witnesses, descriptions of the offenders, their vehicles, etc. This information and evidence should be shared with the law enforcement officials investigating the crime you have reported.

 

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  [item title="Resources For Victims"]

If you are a victim of a hate crime, you may be entitled to services from your local Victim/Witness Assistance Program. A directory of programs sorted by locality can be found here: https://www.dcjs.virginia.gov/ - Victim Assistance Directory or you can call 1-888-887-3418 Monday-Thursday during business hours.


If the crime is also an emergency, you may request assistance from the state’s crisis response team. To report an emergency where there are crime victims, complete this form https://www.dcjs.virginia.gov - Report an Emergency.


The victim of a violent crime or act of harassment or intimidation based on animosity against the victim’s race, religion, or ethnic origin has the right to sue the person responsible. If the victim prevails, he or she may recover their damages, including punitive damages and an award of their costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees.


If you were a victim of a hate crime and were physically injured as a result, you may be entitled to reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses related to your injury. Virginia residents can contact http://www.cicf.state.va.us/ or call 1-800-552-4007 to find out more about the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund.

 

Attorney General Herring’s Office can also help you report a hate crime or connect you with victims’ resources that can support you following a crime. If you need assistance, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and 1-855-NOH8VA1 (1-855-664-8821).   We are ready to assist in any way we can.

 

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[item title="References and Additional Information"]

Federal Hate Crimes Statutes can be found here: https://www.fbi.gov/ - Federal Hate Crime Statutes

Virginia Statutes for hate crimes:
18.2-57; 18.2-121 (sentence enhancement for trespass/cause damage to property);
18.2-422 (wearing a mask in public);
18.2-423 (burning a cross on certain property);
18.2-423.01 (burning an object on certain property);
18.2-423.1 (placing a swastika on certain property);
18.2-423.2 (displaying a noose on certain property).

 

FBI – Civil Rights: https://www.fbi.gov/ - Hate Crimes Overview

DOJ/Office of Civil Rights: http://www.justice.gov/crt and http://www.justice.gov/crs/hate-crime

National Institutes of Justice:
http://www.nij.gov/ - Hate Crime

Anti-Defamation League: http://dc.adl.org/

Human Rights Campaign
http://www.hrc.org/ - What to do if you've been the victim of a hate crime.

U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Virginia:
http://www.justice.gov/usao-edva

U.S. Attorney’s Office, Western District of Virginia:
http://www.justice.gov/usao-wdva

 

 

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