Biased Crimes: Relationship of the FBI & Hate Crimes

Due to the discriminatory nature of hate crimes, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) often will step in to investigate these offenses. Defined as "crimes of hatred and prejudice," these are no modern phenomenon but rather date back throughout American history. These, however, were not investigated by the FBI until World War I.

Now, the FBI investigates all forms of hate crimes, from murders to arson and even vandalism.

It, however, is important to remember that hate is not a crime and the FBI cannot take action against a person simply for hating another as this would be a distinct violation of constitutional rights. Instead, they must be clear an actual crime has been committed. Similarly, the FBI can only get involved to a certain point as the frontline for hate crimes is typically state and local authorities. However, in 2009 the passing of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act expanded the rights of the federal government to prosecute crimes aimed towards the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.

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