§ 485.00 Legislative findings.
The legislature finds and determines as follows: criminal acts
involving violence, intimidation and destruction of property based upon
bias and prejudice have become more prevalent in New York state in
recent years. The intolerable truth is that in these crimes, commonly
and justly referred to as “hate crimes”, victims are intentionally
selected, in whole or in part, because of their race, color, national
origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability
or sexual orientation. Hate crimes do more than threaten the safety and
welfare of all citizens. They inflict on victims incalculable physical
and emotional damage and tear at the very fabric of free society. Crimes
motivated by invidious hatred toward particular groups not only harm
individual victims but send a powerful message of intolerance and
discrimination to all members of the group to which the victim belongs.
Hate crimes can and do intimidate and disrupt entire communities and
vitiate the civility that is essential to healthy democratic processes.
In a democratic society, citizens cannot be required to approve of the
beliefs and practices of others, but must never commit criminal acts on
account of them. Current law does not adequately recognize the harm to
public order and individual safety that hate crimes cause. Therefore,
our laws must be strengthened to provide clear recognition of the
gravity of hate crimes and the compelling importance of preventing their
Accordingly, the legislature finds and declares that hate crimes
should be prosecuted and punished with appropriate severity.