Hate Violence

What are hate violence and hate crimes?

California’s Ralph Civil Rights Act protects individuals from hate violence or threats of violence on account of characteristics listed in the box “Who is protected?” These are examples of bias-related crimes that are forbidden by the law:

  • Threats, verbal or written
  • Physical assault or attempted assault
  • Hate-related graffiti, including swastikas and other offensive symbols
  • Cross-burning
  • Bomb threats
  • Arson
  • Disturbance of religious meetings
  • Vandalism or property damage

Click here for brochures with more information.

What to do if you feel you’ve been victimized

First, report any violent threat or act to the police or sheriff’s office. Many acts of hate violence are criminal acts as well as violations of anti-discrimination laws and law enforcement may need to investigate immediately and/or protect you.

The DFEH pursues civil remedies if civil rights laws have been violated. Complaints alleging violations of the Ralph Act must be filed within one year of the day the victim becomes aware of the perpetrator’s identity, but not more than three years from the date of injury.

Click here for instructions on how to file a complaint.

You may file a private lawsuit under the Ralph Act without filing a complaint with DFEH. If there are possible criminal violations, you can contact the California Attorney General at (800)-952-5225 or TTY (800)-952-5548.

Civil remedies available under the Ralph Act:

  • Restraining Orders: After a restraining order is obtained from a court, violators of that court order can be fined or jailed.
  • Actual Damages: Damages may include the cost of the victim’s medical treatment, lost wages, property repair, or payment for emotional suffering and distress.
  • Punitive Damages: A court can order additional damages to punish violators.
  • Civil Penalties: A court may order a fine of $25,000, which would be awarded to the person filing the complaint.
  • Attorney’s Fees: A court may order the payment of the complainant’s attorney fees resulting from the lawsuit.

View official state regulations.

Who is protected?

  • Race, color
  • Ancestry, national origin
  • Religion
  • Primary language
  • Citizenship, immigration status
  • Disability, mental and physical
  • Sex, gender (including pregnancy)
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity, gender expression
  • Medical condition
  • Genetic information
  • Marital status
  • Political affiliation
  • Position in a labor dispute


DFEH provides multiple resources for anyone needing more information on California’s laws protecting individuals from hate violence for threats of violence.