Hate Crimes: Meaning and Causes

It may come as a surprise that there is no common understanding of the word "hate crime," despite the fact that it is used in a variety of situations, disciplines, and jurisdictions. As a result, even within practice silos, disagreements among academics, legislators, and policymakers might arise when the subject is discussed.

Some people believe that a "hate crime" is a phenomenon that encompasses the entire spectrum of hostilities directed at minority communities generally, from what would technically be deemed criminal crimes to discrimination, hate speech, and even microaggressions. For some people, the phrase "hate crime" refers to a specific concept that exclusively applies to criminal activity.

What is the Meaning of Hate Crimes?

Hate crimes are defined as crimes committed out of prejudice towards a person or social group due to differences, most notably in their religious practices and customs. In modern times, its definition has expanded to include speech that is disrespectful, disparaging, or that calls for violence, in addition to lynching, discrimination, and offensive remarks.

Overall, hate crimes could be described as an assault on a person's rights that are entrusted to him. As a result, not only do they affect the victim but also the social structure as a whole, making them more heinous than many other criminal offences. Race, nationality, religion, and class are the most typical motives for hate speech.

Reasons for Commission on Hate Crime

The terms "hate crimes" and "hate motive," when taken literally, can be deceptive. Numerous crimes motivated by hatred are not classified as hate crimes. For instance, murders are commonly motivated by hatred, yet they are not classified as "hate crimes" unless the victim was chosen particularly due to a protected characteristic.

Yet, inappropriate behaviour can still be classified as such even when the offender has no "hate" for the person in issue. It's possible that most hate crimes don't effectively capture hatred, which is a highly particular and intensely strong emotion.

Need For Hate Crime Laws

When treated similarly to other crimes and not recognised as a distinct category, hate crimes are frequently not addressed correctly. This can manifest in a number of ways, such as when professionals don't believe the victim or don't properly look into allegations of partial motive; when investigators limit the offence when choosing charges; and when courts don't use their power to increase punishments to reflect the motives of the offender. Hate crimes are a violent manifestation of prejudice that can be pervasive in a community.

Cases of inadequate investigations, prosecutions, and sanctions for hate crimes exhibit a number of themes. When a crime is committed against a person who belongs to a stigmatised group (for example, if the group is regularly linked to criminal behaviour), this may affect the investigation by placing the blame on the victim. Only a handful of these kinds of occurrences are necessary for the affected communities to lose faith in how law enforcement personnel are handling the matter.

When the prosecution and sentence weigh the biased purpose, however, such explicit affirmation gives the victim confidence that their experience has been appropriately portrayed. As a result, having confidence in diverse network members can help foster an environment where hate crimes will not go unpunished. The legalisation of hate crimes is essential for swaying opinions, can aid in restoring public faith in the criminal justice system, and can therefore help to heal societal rifts.

What Are the Root Causes of Hate Crime's Prevalence

Expression of Prejudice or Bias

A "hate crime" is more accurately defined as an act committed by a person who expresses prejudice or bias against the victim's (presumed) membership in a certain group rather than by true hatred of the victim. Hate crimes may be committed by people who are motivated by a variety of prejudices rather than just one specific kind of prejudice.

Impact of Social Environments

It's possible that our social settings contribute to hate crimes. Hate crimes are more likely to occur in societies that are designed to favour some identifying qualities over others (for example, being white, male, or heterosexual). Systematic discrimination, which is usually codified in operational procedures, regulations, or laws, may create a situation in which those who engage in victimising members of minority groups feel free to do so.

Influence of Perception

Social psychology research has shown that perpetrators may be influenced by their belief that particular groups are a threat to them.

These threats can be divided into

  • Realistic threats − physical violence against oneself or others, perceived competition for jobs, housing, and other resources.

  • Symbolic threats − that care about the danger to people's values and societal standards.

Other Factors

Many diverse things can motivate those who commit hate crimes. According to some studies, there are four "categories" of offenders, including −

  • Retaliators − Those who act in reprisal for an alleged attack against their own group;

  • Thrill seekers − Those driven by thrill and excitement; Defensive: Those motivated by a desire to safeguard their area;

  • Mission − Perpetrators who make it their life's work to eradicate "different."


The underlying issue is that, in order to bring about criminal proceedings, hate motivation must be expressly acknowledged and rejected. Cases of hate crimes are frequently detailed without ever mentioning the criteria used to choose the victim, such as the victim's "race," "nationality," or "ethnic origin."

In the unlikely event that this occurs, it will be too late to use the punishment of the perpetrator to deter future offenders. The risk is that the wrongdoing was motivated by hatred, sending a message to both the offender and the person in question that the state doesn't sincerely acknowledge it.

Frequently Asked Question

Q1. Who gave the definition of crime?

Ans. A crime or offence (or criminal offence) is defined as an act that causes harm to a community, society, or the state in addition to some specific individual or individuals ("a public wrong"). Such behaviours are illegal and subject to penalties.

Q2. What is the dark crime?

Ans. Crime specialists and sociologists refer to the number of crimes committed that are never recorded or are never found as the "black figure of crime," which casts doubt on the accuracy and efficacy of the official crime statistics.

Q3. What is the most common crime?

Ans. The most frequent kind of property crime is theft or larceny. Every 5.5 seconds, someone is thought to become a victim of theft. Burglary, which involves breaking and entering, is the second most frequent type of crime.

Q4. What is the origin of criminal law?

Ans. In India, the history of contemporary criminal law codification often starts with the establishment of British rule. Its origins, however, go back to the Vedic era and the rule of numerous Muslim and Hindu empires. English laws and customs form the foundation of the contemporary criminal justice system.

Q5. What is the most difficult crime?

Ans. Due to the lack of a purpose on the part of the burglars, burglaries are possibly the most challenging crimes to solve. The majority of the time, they will choose to steal from an empty house or other structure, which may have few or no witnesses.

Updated on: 09-May-2023


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