In the category of most overused legal terms, hate crimes is up near the top especially since it's often misused as well.
A hate crime is related to discrimination, but not all discrimination constitutes a hate crime. To further confuse the matter, a hate crime can be committed by one member of a minority against another member of that same group, as shown by the case of Samuel Mullet, an Amish man in Ohio.
The list of states with the most hate crimes per capita may appear surprising on its surface. But first, let's review the definition of a hate crime.
Legally speaking, a hate crime is a crime that involves force or the threat of force. The crime must be motivated by the victim's race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, or disability.
That means verbal abuse is not included. A hate crime is a crime of physical violence.
While words are hurtful and victims do have legal remedies, most of those are civil remedies. Criminally charging someone with a hate crime is way for society to punish intolerance and violence.
The good news is that the number of hate crimes is down across the country, reports Business Insider. But these crimes still happen, and certain states and jurisdictions have more incidents than others.
The 10 states with the most hate crimes per capita are:
- Washington, D.C., with 13.4 incidents per 100,000 people.
- Massachusetts, with 5.77 incidents.
- New Jersey, with 5.76.
- Oregon, with 5.25.
- Kentucky, with 4.33.
- Maine, with 4.14.
- North Dakota, with 4.05.
- Connecticut, with 3.91.
- Colorado, with 3.73.
- Minnesota, with 3.71.
That doesn't necessarily mean those states have the biggest problems with discrimination or high instances of civil claims based on intolerance.
The rankings are based on the FBI's annual report on hate crime statistics. Those numbers are based on reports submitted by law enforcement agencies across the country. But not all law enforcement agencies submit reports.
Certain states submitted very little information on hate crimes which naturally made the number of reported hate crimes much lower. In fact, no data was available for Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Besides the District of Columbia, which is geographically and administratively smaller than most states, 14 other states had fewer than 10 agencies submitting incident reports. That included the four states with the lowest rates of hate crimes: Wyoming, Louisiana, Georgia, and Mississippi.
Even if it doesn't fall within the definition of a hate crime, discrimination in most situations is a violation of your legal rights. If you've been a victim, make sure you talk to an attorney about what you can do to stand up for your rights.