Hate Crimes

A hate crime is any criminal act in which the perpetrator intentionally selects a victim or property because of the perpetrator’s hatred or animus towards a person’s protected status (actual or perceived race, religion, color, disability, national origin or ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation).

Under Rhode Island law, a hate crime does not need to be motivated solely by bigotry or bias; rather the evidence must show that the offense was motivated, at least in part, by the defendant’s animus toward the victim’s protected status.

In Rhode Island, a hate crime is not a separate criminal charge; it is a sentencing enhancement.

Law Enforcement Guidance for Hate Crimes

An effective response to hate crimes and related civil rights violations is imperative for law enforcement in Rhode Island to ensure that the community and law enforcement are aligned in the shared goal of reducing crime targeted at minorities and other vulnerable groups.

We issued law enforcement guidance for hate crime investigations to address misconduct motivated by bigotry or hatred of protected groups and to improve policing in Rhode Island.

This guidance recommends that each police department designate a Hate Crimes and Civil Rights Liaison, who will serve as a department contact to the Civil Rights Team.