Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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What is a Hate Crime?

Hate crimes are defined under Section 485.05 of New York State penal law.

Read more about the New York State law on hate crimes

Aggravated harassment crimes (etching swastikas, displaying nooses, and publicly burning crosses) are defined under Section 240.31 of New York State penal law.

Read more about the New York State law on aggravated harassment crimes

The New York City Police Department uses the following guidelines to identify hate crimes and bias incidents: "A bias incident is any offense or unlawful act that is motivated in whole or substantial part by a person's, a group's or a place's identification with a particular race, color, religion, ethnicity, gender, age, disability, ancestry, national origin, or sexual orientation (including gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgender) as determined by the commanding officer of the Hate Crime Task Force."

All hate crimes are serious incidents and are treated as such by the Police Department. Crimes that are motivated by hate are vigorously investigated by the NYPD Hate Crime Task Force.

Learn more about NYPD and the Hate Crime Task Force

How Do I Report a Hate Crime?

If you are the victim of crime, call 911 immediately. If it is a non-serious crime, or a crime that occurred in the past, contact If you are the victim of crime, call 911 immediately. If it is non-violent crime, or a crime that occurred in the past, contact your local precinct.
                                                                                                                                                             
Find your nearest precinct

The responding police officers will provide whatever immediate assistance is needed and begin the reporting process. If the situation is deemed to be a possible bias-motivated incident, the NYPD Hate Crime Task Force will be notified.

A person's immigration status does not prevent them from reporting a hate crime or receiving services. You can also report hate crimes to the District Attorney hate crime unit in your borough.

Why Are Hate Crimes Treated Differently Than Other Crimes?

Hate crimes are subject to enhanced penalties because they have a different, greater impact.  They send a message to victims that they have been targeted because of their personal identity, creating a deep sense of insecurity. Not only does the victim suffer, but the entire class of individuals who share the victim’s characteristics is also impacted, damaging the fabric of democratic society by giving rise to community fear and disruption.

Why Are Hate Crimes Under-Reported?

There are a number of reasons that hate crimes are under-reported, including that a victim may believe that the incident was not important enough to report to police, may feel that their complaint will not be taken seriously or may not trust the government to act on it, or may be concerned about their immigration status or about retaliation.

In New York City, victims are not asked about their immigration status and their personal information (e.g., sexual orientation) is not made public without the victim’s consent.

Why Is It Important to Report Hate Crimes?

It is critically important to report hate crimes so the City can provide victims with resources such as physical and mental health services or financial support. It is also important for the City to keep track of incidents so it can gather statistics and ascertain patterns (e.g., neighborhoods targeted, age of offenders, most frequent bias motivations, etc.) and determine ways to address them. Also, if a hate crime is not reported, the perpetrator(s) may go on to hurt another person in the same way or worse.

Once a hate crime is made public, it is important for community leaders to be able to send a united message of support for the victim and the victim’s community and make it clear  that New York City will not tolerate these types of crimes and that our City values diversity, inclusion, and safety for all.

Are All Bias Incidents Hate Crimes?

No. In many instances there can be verbal harassment or discrimination against someone based on their identity, but the incident does not involve an underlying crime, such as aggravated harassment, physical attack, a threat of attack, or property damage.

Bias incidents are taken seriously because they also impact someone’s identity and can create fear and community disruption. Some bias incidents may be protected by free speech provisions of the Constitution (e.g., calling someone a racial epithet without any threat), while others may give rise to civil penalties under the NYC Human Rights law.

Learn how to file a discrimination complaint.

For general questions or concerns, please contact OPHC.