Hate Crimes

A hate crime (technically referred as "Malicious Harassment") is a criminal act that is motivated by bias based on real or perceived characteristics of the victim. The Seattle City Attorney's Office is limited by statute to only prosecute hate crimes for certain protected classes.

Felony Hate Crimes can be prosecuted by the King County Prosecutor's Office when committed against someone due to their belonging to one or more the following protected classes:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Ancestry
  • Ethnicity
  • National Origin
  • Gender
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Mental, Physical, Sensory Disability

Misdemeanor Hate Crimes can be prosecuted by the Seattle City Attorney's Office when committed against someone due to their belonging to one or more the following protected classes:

  • Homelessness
  • Marital Status
  • Political Ideology
  • Gender identity
  • Age
  • Parental Status

When police reports are referred to the Seattle City Attorney's Office with a recommendation that a person be charged with Malicious Harassment (Hate Crime), prosecutors in the office's Review & Filing Unit evaluate the available evidence, including contacting victims, to make a decision whether to file charges or decline to file charges.

The Seattle City Auditor evaluated Hate Crime Prevention, Response and Reporting in Seattle in two audits, published in 2017 and 2019. In Part 2 of the report, the Auditor made several recommendations, including: "The Seattle City Attorney's Office and the King County Prosecutor's Office should track and publicly report data on the prosecution of malicious harassment cases..."  

Read below for the outcomes from police reports referred to the Seattle City Attorney's Office for consideration of misdemeanor Malicous Harassment charges:

2019
Six police reports were referred to the City Attorney's Office for consideration of Malicious Harassment charges in 2019. Four of the six reports included bias against protected classes the City Attorney's Office is not legally able to charge with Malicious Harassment (1 Race, 1 Sexual Orientation, 2 erroneously identified as Malicious Harassment). One case (Age) is still under review for charging consideration, and one case was prosecuted (Housing Status).  

2018
Two police reports were referred to the City Attorney's Office for consideration of Malicious Harassment charges in 2018. Neither of the two reports included bias against protected classes the City Attorney's Office is legally able to charge with Malicious Harassment (1 Race, 1 Sexual Orientation). 

2017
Five police reports were referred to the City Attorney's Office for consideration of Malicious Harassment charges in 2017. Four of the five reports included bias against protected classes the City Attorney's Office is not legally able to charge with Malicious Harassment (1 Race, 1 Sexual Orientation, 2 erroneously identified as Malicious Harassment). One case (Gender Identify) had insufficient evidence to prove the alleged crime, so charges were not pursued. 

If you feel you've been the victim of a hate crime, please contact the Seattle Police Department to report the offense.