Does New Hampshire have a hate crimes law?

Yes. New Hampshire has a law providing for increased criminal penalties for hate-motivated violence (NH RSA 651:6 I(f)). If a defendant was “substantially motivated to commit the crime because of hostility towards the victim’s religion, race, creed, sexual orientation . . ., national origin, or sex,” penalties may be increased. The defendant must be notified of the possibility of an enhanced penalty prior to the trial.

Do other laws provide protection against hate-motivated violence?

Yes. New Hampshire law permits the Attorney General to bring a civil action against a hate-motivated perpetrator who subjects a victim to actual or threatened violence, actual or threatened trespass to property, or actual or threatened property damage (NH RSA 354-B:1). Any of the following civil penalties can be imposed: a fine of up to $5,000, paid to the state; (NH RSA 354-B:3) restitution to the victim for out-of-pocket expenses; (NH RSA 354-B:4) an injunction or temporary restraining against the perpetrator to prevent future hate crimes (NH RSA 354-B: 3, II).

Where can I call if I think I’ve been a victim of a hate crime?

In addition to contacting the local police, you may contact the 24-hour hotline operated by the Attorney General’s Office at (603) 271-1241.  You may also call the Criminal Division of the Attorney General’s office at (603) 271-3658. Be sure to explain all of the factors that make you think this was a hate crime.

For support and advocacy, contact:

  1. New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office, Office of Victim/Witness Assistance, 33 Capitol St., Concord, NH 03301-6397, (603) 271-3671.

In what ways might the federal hate crimes law help to investigate and prosecute hate crimes?

The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (visit H.R. 2647 at was passed by Congress on October 22, 2009 and was signed into law by President Obama on October 28, 2009.  It expands the 1969 United States federal hate crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.

First, and perhaps foremost, the Act allows local and state law enforcement agencies to apply for the following federal assistance from the U.S. Attorney General:

  • investigative, technical, forensic or prosecutorial support for criminal investigations and prosecutions,
  • grants for extraordinary expenses associated with the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes, and
  • grants to combat hate crimes committed by juveniles.

In providing assistance to local and state authorities, the priorities are hate crimes:

  • where the offender(s) has committed crimes in more than one state, or
  • that occur in rural areas which do not have the resources needed to prosecute such crimes.

Second, for hate crimes that in some way involve crossing state or national borders, or involve or affect interstate commerce, and where a state does not have jurisdiction or has requested federal assumption of jurisdiction, or where the federal government feels that justice has not been served or that U.S. prosecution is in the public interest, the Act authorizes the federal government to prosecute the case.

The Act also requires the Federal Bureau of Investigation to track statistics on hate crimes on the basis of gender and gender identity (statistics for the other groups are already tracked) and on crimes committed by and against juveniles. This is the first federal law to explicitly extend legal protections to transgender persons.