What you need to know about hate crimes and hate speech
What is a hate crime?
A hate crime is a criminal act committed against a person or person’s property that is motivated by bias against a person’s or group’s race, color, disability, religion, national origin or ancestry, age, gender, sexual preference, gender identity and expression, or status as a peace officer or judge.
It is important to note that Texas does not have a separate hate crime offense. Instead, the Texas Hate Crimes Act allows for the enhancement of the punishment for certain crimes.
How do I report a hate crime or incident?
If you are in immediate danger, call 9-1-1. If you are not in immediate danger, you may utilize the following non-emergency options:
Call the Houston Police Hate Crime Victims Services 713.308.0800
It is always important to file a police report with the Police Department and provide as much information as possible as this will assist in finding and arresting a suspect in a crime, adding serial numbers to statewide databases to recover stolen property, tracking criminal activity in various areas to prevent future crimes, among others.
If you believe the incident was motivated by bias against you, make sure to tell the responding officer.
What happens when I make a report?
- If you call 9-1-1, an officer will be sent to the location provided. The officer will gather details and generate a police report.
- If you choose to report online, you will fill out the details on your own. A report will be generated and sent directly to the Police Department.
- If utilizing 3-1-1 non-emergency, you will be provided a customer service report number. Your report will be entered into a queue and the next available HPD call taker will call you back to gather information and generate a police report. The wait time varies based on call load, but can take several weeks.
What is an enhancement?
Texas has adopted legal provisions which authorize heightened penalties upon a trial court finding the defendant targeted a victim based on the defendant’s personal bias or prejudice.
Reporting is Key
If you have been victim of a hate crime, here are the most important steps to follow:
Make sure you are safe. Call 911 to report the crime as soon as you can. Your clothing, location, and other items can be evidence in the case, so do not delay in reporting the crime. Provide the police all of the information that you can.
Document as many details as possible, including as much as you can remember about the perpetrator, the location, and any other information. Urge the officer to note that the crime was a hate crime or was motivated by bias by telling them what was said written or expressed that was directed at your race, religion, national origin, gender or sexual orientation.
Seek medical treatment if necessary, and support from family, friends, or professionals.
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