Hate Crimes

Hate crimes (also known as bias-motivated crimes) occur when a perpetrator targets a victim because of his or her membership in a certain social group, usually defined by race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity, nationality, age, gender, gender identity, or political affiliation. Hate crimes differ from conventional crime because they are not directed simply at an individual, but are meant to cause fear and intimidation in an entire group or class of people.


Chapter 265: Section 39. Assault or battery for purpose of intimidation; weapons; punishment
Section 39. (a) Whoever commits an assault or a battery upon a person or damages the real or personal property of a person with the intent to intimidate such person because of such person’s race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or disability shall be punished by a fine of not more than five thousand dollars or by imprisonment in a house of correction for not more than two and one-half years, or by both such fine and imprisonment. The court may also order restitution to the victim in any amount up to three times the value of property damage sustained by the owners of such property. For the purposes of this section, the term “disability” shall have the same meaning as “handicap” as defined in subsection 17 of section one of chapter one hundred and fifty-one B; provided, however, that for purposes of this section, the term “disability” shall not include any condition primarily resulting from the use of alcohol or a controlled substance as defined in section one of chapter ninety-four C.

(b) Whoever commits a battery in violation of this section and which results in bodily injury shall be punished by a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars or by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than five years, or by both such fine and imprisonment. Whoever commits any offense described in this subsection while armed with a firearm, rifle, shotgun, machine gun or assault weapon shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than ten years or in the house of correction for not more than two and one-half years. For purposes of this section, “bodily injury” shall mean substantial impairment of the physical condition, including, but not limited to, any burn, fracture of any bone, subdural hematoma, injury to any internal organ, or any injury which occurs as the result of repeated harm to any bodily function or organ, including human skin.

There shall be a surcharge of one hundred dollars on a fine assessed against a defendant convicted of a violation of this section; provided, however, that moneys from such surcharge shall be delivered forthwith to the treasurer of the Commonwealth and deposited in the Diversity Awareness Education Trust Fund established under the provisions of section thirty-nine Q of chapter ten. In the case of convictions for multiple offenses, said surcharge shall be assessed for each such conviction.

A person convicted under the provisions of this section shall complete a diversity awareness program designed by the secretary of the executive office of public safety in consultation with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination and approved by the chief justice for administration and management of the trial court. A person so convicted shall complete such program prior to release from incarceration or prior to completion of the terms of probation, whichever is applicable.

Sensitive Crimes

The Boston University Police Department recognizes that any criminal victimization can be traumatic to an individual. However, some types of victimization can be extremely difficult for victims. Such crimes include sexual assault, domestic abuse, and bias-motivated crimes. The Boston University Police Department detectives are trained and certified to investigate sexual assault cases, and will investigate all crimes that occur on the Boston University campus. Local police investigate crimes anywhere within their respective cities and towns. The Boston University Police are available to assist in contacting local police departments and specialized units. The victim is encouraged to report the incident even if the individual is unsure if he or she wants to participate in the prosecution of the offender.

The individual is alerted to the various resources available both within the University, such as Student Health Services and its Behavioral Medicine Clinic. Additionally, entities within the City of Boston, such as the Boston Police Family Justice Division, the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, and the Boston District Attorney’s Office are available.

Anyone who is the victim of a “Sensitive Crime” is encouraged to seek support and assistance, and to report the incident. An individual may contact the Boston University Police Department by calling 617-353-2121, 24 hours a day. A person may also call the BU Police by using any of the 103 blue-light call boxes located on and around the university; by using the red emergency button; or by dialing 3-2121.