Freedom From Violence

The following is from an information sheet distributed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing

WHAT CALIFORNIA LAWS PROTECT THAT RIGHT?

It is against the law in California for anybody to threaten or commit acts of violence against you or your property because of the kind of person you are, or the kinds of persons with whom you associate. The Ralph Civil Rights Act (California Civil Code Section 51.7) forbids acts of violence, or threats of violence, because of (for example) your race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, political party, or your part in a labor dispute.

The Bane Civil Rights act (California Civil Code Section 52.1) forbids anyone from interfering by force or by threat of violence with your federal or state constitutional or statutory rights.

The acts forbidden by these civil laws may also be criminal acts, and can expose violators to criminal penalties. A list of related criminal statutes is listed further on in this pamphlet.

WHAT KINDS OF ACTS ARE FORBIDDEN BY THE LAW?

  • Threats, verbal or written
  • Physical assault or attempted assault.
  • Graffiti.
  • Vandalism or property damage.

HOW DO THESE LAWS HELP?

Penal Code Sections punish persons who have violated the rights of others.

Civil remedies provide protection for persons threatened with violence and money damage to persons who have been harmed by violence or threats. These civil remedies are available even if criminal violations cannot be proven.

Civil remedies available under the Ralph and Bane Acts include:

  • RESTRAINING ORDERS: Once a restraining order is obtained from a court, persons upon whom it is served can be fined or jailed if they continue to threaten you or if they harm you or your property.
  • ACTUAL DAMAGES: This includes the cost of medical treatment, lost wages, repairing property, or payment for emotional suffering and distress.
  • PUNITIVE DAMAGES: A court can order an additional payment to punish the wrongdoer.
  • CIVIL PENALTIES: A court or the Fair Employment and Housing Commission may order a fine of $25,000, which goes to the victim.
  • ATTORNEY FEES: A court may order that you be paid the attorney fees you owe for suing the person who violated your rights.

HOW CAN YOU USE THESE LAWS?

  1. Use this pamphlet. Show it to attorneys or police or governmental agencies when you contact them about your problem.

  2. Report any threat or any violent act to the police. Tell them why you believe that a threat or the actual violence happened because of the kind of person you are (for example, because of your race, sex, age, disability, or sexual orientation); or because of the people you associate with (for example, because of your political party or church membership). You may feel that you were attacked because of your race if the attacker called you racist names; you may believe that a swastika was painted on your house because you are Jewish.

  3. If you don't know who threatened or hurt you or damaged your property, and local law enforcement won't investigate, contact the California Attorney General. To contact the California Attorney General, call (800) 952-5225 or, if you are hearing impaired and using a TDD device, call (800) 952-5548.

  4. If you know who threatened or hurt you or damaged your property, you can sue in court, or there are a number of government agencies that can help you.

  5. You can sue Under California Civil Code Section 52 to enforce the Ralph or Bane Civil Rights Acts. If you win, you may be given actual damages, and you may be given your lawyer's fees. The Court can also give you a restraining order, and may order punitive damages. The court can also fine the person you are suing $25,000. This money would go to you.

    You must sue within one to three years of the event you are complaining about. You should consult with an attorney if you are thinking of suing.

  6. You can file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. You will not need an attorney, and there is no fee for the Department's services. If your case can be proven, you may be entitled to out-of-pocket losses in addition to emotional distress damages of up to $150,000. You may receive up to $25,000 in fines which can be levied against the person who violated your rights. The Department can also ask a court for a restraining order.

    A complaint must be filed with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing within one year of the events you are complaining about.

    To contact the Department, a list of offices is printed on the back of this pamphlet.

  7. You may get help from your local District Attorney, or local city attorney or from the California Attorney General. Any of these officials can ask a court for a restraining order against the person who threatened you or who hurt you or damaged your property. They can also file a lawsuit to prevent interference with your statutory or constitutional rights.

    Telephone numbers for either District Attorneys or local city attorneys can be found in the government section of your telephone book. The Attorney General's telephone number is (800) 952-5225, or, it you are hearing impaired and use a TDD, (800) 952-5548.

WHAT CRIMINAL LAWS ARE BROKEN BY VIOLENCE OR THREATS OF VIOLENCE?

The following is a list of laws in the California Penal Code. A local District Attorney or the California Attorney General can prosecute people who break these laws:

  • PENAL CODE SECTION 190.2(a)(16): Provides a death penalty for murder because of the victim's race, color, religion, nationality, or national origin.
  • PENAL CODE SECTION 302: Establishes it is a misdemeanor to willfully disturb a group of people met to worship.
  • PENAL CODE SECTION 422.6(a): Provides it is a misdemeanor to interfere by force or threat of force with a person's statutory or constitutional rights because of a person's race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sex, disability, or sexual orientation.
  • PENAL CODE SECTION 422.6(b): Provides it is a misdemeanor to damage a person's property because of his or her race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sex, disability, or sexual orientation.
  • PENAL CODE SECTION 422.7: Provides that actions which are normally misdemeanors can become felonies if committed because of bigotry.
  • PENAL CODE SECTION 422.75: Provides additional punishment for felonies committed because of a victim's race, color, religion, etc.
  • PENAL CODE SECTION 594.3: Provides it is a felony or misdemeanor to knowingly vandalize a place of worship.
  • PENAL CODE SECTION 1170.75: Provides additional punishment for felonies committed because of a victim's race, color, religion, etc.
  • PENAL CODE SECTION 1170.8: Provides additional punishment for robbery or assault of persons within a place of worship.
  • PENAL CODE SECTION 1170.85: Provides additional punishment for felonies committed against the aged or disabled.
  • PENAL CODE SECTION 11410: States that the urging of violence where harm is possible is conduct not protected by the California Constitution.
  • PENAL CODE SECTION 11411: Provides it is a misdemeanor to cause a person to fear for their safety by burning a cross or by displaying racist signs.
  • PENAL CODE SECTION 11412: Provides it is a felony to attempt to discourage religious activities by threats of violence.
  • PENAL CODE SECTION 11413: Provides it is a felony to use a bomb against or to set on fire a place of worship.

 

STATE OF CALIFORNIA
The Department of Fair
Employment and Housing

For more information, contact your nearest Fair Employment and Housing office.

BAKERSFIELD
1001 Tower Way, #250
Bakersfield, CA 93309-1586
(805) 395-2728
SACRAMENTO
2000 "O" Street, # 120
Sacramento, CA 95814-5212
(916) 445-9918
SAN JOSE
111 North Market Street, #810
San Jose, CA 95113-1102
(408) 277-1264
FRESNO
1900 Mariposa Mail, Suite 130
Fresno, CA 93721-2504
(209) 445-5373
SAN BERNARDINO
1845 S. Business Center Dr., #127
San Bernardino, CA 92408-3426
(909) 383-4711
SANTA ANA
28 Civic Center Plaza, #538
Santa Ana, CA 92701-4010
(714) 558-4159
LOS ANGELES
322 West First Street, #2126
Los Angeles, CA 90012-3112
(213) 897-1997
SAN DIEGO
110 West "C" Street, #1702
San Diego, CA 92010-3901
(619) 237-7405
VENTURA
5720 Ralston Street, #302
Ventura, CA 93003-6081
(805) 654-4513
OAKLAND
1330 Broadway, #1326
Oakland, CA 94612-2512
(510) 286-4095
SAN FRANCISCO
30 Van Ness Ave., Suite 3000
San Francisco, CA 94102-6073
(415) 557-2005
TDD NUMBERS
LOS ANGELES (213) 897-2840
SACRAMENTO (916) 324-1678