Hate Crime-Related Legislation

2008
Enacted into law:

ACR 108 (Eng)Hate Crimes Awareness Month.  In an effort to improve public safety by promoting a better public understanding of hate crimes, this resolution establishes the month of June as Hate Crimes Awareness Month.

2007
Enacted into law:

AB 394 (Levine), known as the Safe Place to Learn Act, provides protection for youth in schools, including those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT). It strengthens the state’s ability to keep schools safe and fight bias and harassment in schools by requiring the California Department of Education to monitor school compliance with the state’s existing anti-bias law, the Student Safety and Violence Protection Act of 2000. AB 394 guides school districts in adopting and publicizing anti-harassment policies and complaint procedures, updating publications on school safety and discrimination, keeping records of complaints and how they were resolved, and providing training for teachers on how to maintain a safe learning environment for all students. By not tolerating bullying in school, this bill attempts to prevent potential hate crimes resulting from harassment.

SB 777 (Kuehl), known as the California Student Civil Rights Act, strengthens student civil rights protections to ensure that all students will have the opportunity to be safe in school. Current law bans discrimination in schools against individuals of protected classes. However, there are nondiscrimination statutes in the Education Code that vary in lists of protected classes. This bill revises the current list of prohibited bases of discrimination in the Education Code and prohibits instructions, activities, and instructional materials that promote a discriminatory bias against any person. It reconciles protected clauses in the Education Code with the Penal Code. This bill also defines disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation for this purpose. This bill changes the all references to “handicapped”  individuals in the Education Code to individuals with physical disabilities.

2006
Enacted into law:

AB 1160 (Lieber)prohibited the use of societal bias, such as “panic strategies”, from consideration by juries in criminal proceedings as a defense to justify acquittal or to reduce charges. For example, some defendants on trial for antigay and anti-transgender hate crimes have argued in court that their revulsion of their victims’ sexual/gender identities were mitigating circumstances in their culpability. The bill also requires the Office of Emergency Services to develop materials for city and county prosecutors to explain how to prevent bias from affecting the outcome of a trial.

AB 2800 (Laird) standardized housing-related non-discrimination provisions in California law to synchronize them with the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Passed by the Legislature, vetoed by the Governor:

AB 1056 (Chu)AB 1056 would have required the State Board of Education to consult with Human Relations Commissions, individuals, and groups that are protected by California’s hate crimes legislation to develop a pilot project that will integrate inter-group relations and tolerance curriculum into English and Social Science studies.

AB 2510 (Lieu) AB 2510 would have helped the state better measure the occurrences of bias-related discrimination in schools, as well as how students handle such events, by including additional questions in the statewide survey which is conducted every other year in grades 7, 9, and 11.

AB 606 (Levine) The Safe Place to Learn Act would have required the State Department of Education to develop a model antidiscrimination and anti-harassment policy and post it on its website by January 1, 2008 to ensure that schools are in compliance with the California Student Safety and Violence Act of 2000 (AB537).

SB 1437 (Kuehl) SB 1437 aimed to promote an atmosphere of safety and respect in California schools by adding sexual orientation and gender identity as protected categories to an existing law that prohibits instruction or school-sponsored activities that reflect adversely upon persons, because of their race, sex, color, creed, handicap, national origin or ancestry.

2005
Enacted into law:

AB 378 (Chu),makes it easier for hate crime victims to seek civil remedies from the perpetrators.  It amends the Ralph and Bane Acts, which previously granted only one year in which to file a lawsuit for a maximum $25,000 penalty, to allow a three-year statute of limitations for a violation of California’s hate crime law. This change in the law makes it easier for victims of hate crimes to pursue a civil action (lawsuit) in addition to any criminal proceedings.

Before the passage of this law, victims of hate crimes had one year from the time of the incident to sue their attackers in civil court. This time limitation prohibited some hate crime victims from seeking compensation for the harms that they had suffered. Victims are often unable to file a civil suit before the criminal case concludes. In some cases, one year is simply not enough time for law enforcement to identify the attackers or complete its investigation, or for the criminal proceedings to finish. In other cases, victims are advised by legal counsel to await the conclusion of the criminal trial, in part because prosecutions often provide victims information that would be needed to successfully sue the perpetrators and that might otherwise be impossible or very costly to obtain.

2004
Enacted into law:

AB 2288 (Pacheco)It lowers the financial threshold for vandalism hate crimes to have a requirement of $400 worth of damage to be charged as a felony instead of the previous $500 in damage. This makes hate crime law consistent with the general vandalism statute. In 1998, legislation was enacted to make vandalism of more than $400 a felony. Unfortunately, the corresponding dollar reduction was inadvertently left out of California’s hate crime vandalism statute. (SB 1234 also rectified this discrepancy.)

AB 2428 (Chu), known as “Kenny’s Law”  affects the probation and parole processes for people who have been convicted of a hate crime, as well as the conditional release process for those deemed not guilty by reason of insanity. It requires protective orders to be issued for the victim, or any of the victim’s family members or domestic partners. In addition, courts, parole authorities, or community program directors are authorized to require hate crime perpetrators to undergo racial or ethnic sensitivity training as a condition of probation, parole, or release. This law was written after a hate crime victim was murdered by his mentally ill neighbor.

SB (Kuehl) cleans up many hate crime laws, codifying existing case law and amending California’s many hate crime laws to unify definitions of important terms, such as hate crime and victim. It also:

  • Sets up a graduated fine for hate crime offenders and establishes a unified sentencing procedure
  • Explicitly protects witnesses and victims of hate crimes from deportation unless they are guilty of other crimes, either related or unrelated
  • Enhances police training with more information on anti-disability, anti-Arab, and anti-Muslim crimes
  • Adds mosque and temple to the list of religious institutions explicitly addressed by hate crime statutes
  • Lowers the hate crime vandalism damage prosecution threshold to the regular vandalism prosecution threshold
  • Clarifies that hate crime protections extend to victims who are targeted for their association with a protected class, such as in the case of interracial couples
  • Declares restorative justice to be one of the goals of hate crime policy.

2003
Enacted into law:

AB 1250 (Laird)added training designed to improve intolerance and hatred prevention to the list of topics eligible for teachers’ staff development allowance.

SB 719 (Kuehl) requires the School/Law Enforcement Partnership to sponsor a biennial statewide conference for school districts, instead of the current requirement of two regional conferences on an annual basis. The purpose of the Conference is to involve county offices of education, youth serving agencies, allied agencies, community-based organizations, and law enforcement agencies in the identification of exemplary programs and techniques that effectively reduce school crime, including hate crimes. The Partnership was established in 1985 in an effort to make schools safer and reduce hate crimes..

2002
Enacted into law:

SB 1945 (Kuehl)extends the deadline for filing a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) for a violation of the Ralph Civil Rights Act, which prohibits bias motivated violence or threats of violence and allows for civil remedies. The deadline has been extended from one year (or one year and 90 days if the victim was not aware of the violation until after the one-year deadline) to one year from the time the victim becomes aware of the identity of the perpetrator, but in no case exceeding three years from the date of the violation. This law gives victims of hate violence more time to discover who perpetrated such violence and to file a complaint with the DFEH.

AB 2145 (Chu) makes it a misdemeanor for groups and individuals to insert hate materials in free publications, such as rental and homes for sale guides, without the consent of the publisher.

AB 2653 (Chu) allows a one-time continuance in the case of hate crimes in order to accommodate vertical prosecution of cases. (This continuance is currently allowed for other specified crimes, such as stalking and domestic violence.) This would mean that the same prosecutor would more likely be able to work on the same case from beginning to end, rather than having to pass it on to another prosecutor when he or she has a scheduling conflict due to another case.

2001
Enacted into law:

AB 1312 (Nakano)Requires the Department of Justice to establish the Asian Pacific Islander Anti-Hate Crimes Program. This program would provide public education to Asian Pacific American communities on hate crimes and how to report them. The Governor signed the bill, but vetoed the appropriations and instead requested that the Department of Justice administer the program with existing funds.

AB 1193 (Steinberg) protects organizations from losing their insurance after being subjected to a hate crime. The bill states that insurance policies held by education, religious, or other non-profit organizations to protect against certain risks cannot be canceled solely on the basis that a claim made within the 60 months was for a loss due to a hate crime.

AB 276 (Migden) extends from one to two years the time that the Department of Fair Employment and Housing can file an accusation alleging civil violation of California’s Ralph Civil Rights Act. The Ralph Civil Rights Act states that people have the right to be free from bias motivated violence or the threat of such violence, and gives a cause of action to sue for damages against anyone who violates this right. Because perpetrators of hate crime are oftentime4s no identified because of the nature of the offense, i.e., vandalism, the extra year gives law enforcement additional time to investigate.

SB 257 (Kuehl) mandates that school safety plans include development of a discrimination and harassment policy and that schools report hate crimes to the State Superintendent of schools.

2000
Enacted into law:

AB 715 (Firebaugh) added “national origin” to the list of victim characteristics in the state hate crime reporting guidelines for law enforcement.

AB 2580 (Cox) made hate-motivated vandalism of a cemetery a felony.

SB 1102 (Murray) outlawed racial profiling and mandates that every law enforcement officer in California attend racial profiling training. The training is to be developed by the California Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, with guidance from community groups. Three new hate crime laws deal with schools.

AB 1785 (Villaraigosa) requires the State Department of Education to include hate crimes and bias incidents on the standard K-12 school crime reporting form. This bill also specifies that the State’s moral and civic education curriculum shall include human relations education, and encourages school sites that receive state funds to include anti-bias programs and curricula. Update: due to budget cuts, this information is no longer collected. The current reporting form is inadequate to do meaningful tracking of hate crime reports.

AB 1931 (Scott) appropriated $150,000 to an organization with the experience to provide training programs throughout the State to assist school district personnel in the identification and determination of hate violence on school campuses. It also provides $2,000,000 for grants to school districts to enable pupils and teachers to participate in educational programs focused on overcoming prejudice, countering hatred, and fostering ethnic sensitivity.

AB 1945 (Lowenthal) added diversity training to the activities that can fulfill the 150-hour school staff development plan. Teachers must participate in 150 hours of activities that are aligned with the California Standards for the Teaching Profession that contribute to competence, performance, or effectiveness in teaching.

1999
Enacted into law:

AB 208 (Knox)Prior to passage of AB 208, homicide with a special circumstance could be charged when a person was intentionally killed because of his or her race, color, religion, nationality, or country of origin. AB 208 revised this special circumstance to include the intentional killing of a person because of his or her disability, gender, or sexual orientation. If special circumstances are proven, a sentence of life without parole, but not the death penalty, could be imposed. The bill also clarifies that the entire section of the penal code relates to homicides in which either the victims’ actual status or perceived status is the reason for the killing. For example, if a heterosexual person is targeted because s/he is mistaken for being gay by the perpetrator, the additional penalty would still apply.

AB 537 (Kuehl) prohibits discrimination and harassment in schools on the basis of sexual orientation. Prior to the passage of AB 537, the State educational code prohibited harassment and discrimination on the bases of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, and g e n d e r, but not sexual orientation.

AB 1906 (Longville) would have required that the State Board of Education develop policies and guidelines for preventing hate violence in grades K-12.

SB 1613 (Burton) would have given a grant to the State Office of Criminal Justice Planning to establish six Victim Recovery Centers

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