Know Your Rights

YOUR RIGHT TO FREEDOM FROM VIOLENCE

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, 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 violation cannot be proven. Civil remedies available under the Ralph and Bane Acts include:

RESTRAINING ORDERS:

Once a restraining order is obtained from a court, a person 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 issue a fine of $25,000, which will be paid 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. 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.

2. 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, call (800) 952-5548.

3. 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.

* 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 two years of the event you are complaining about.

* 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.

* You may get help from your local District Attorney, or 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 local 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 if you are hearing impaired and use a TDD, (800) 952-5548.

WHAT CRIMINAL LAWS ARE BROKEN BY VIOLENCE OR THREATS?

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 258: Establishes it is a misdemeanor to maliciously slander, among others, "any social fraternal...religious corporation, association or organization."
  • 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 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 11411: 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.

INFORMATION AND ASSISTANCE:

University of California Santa Cruz

UCSC Police Department 
Emergency Response Center (ERC)
(831) 459-2231

Academic & Staff Assistance Program 

Ombuds Office 

Dean Of Students Office 

Counseling & Career Services 

How to blow the whistle on suspected improper activities. If you know of any "improper governmental activity" that directly involves the University as either the victim or the perpetrator via the action of an employee; such as corruption, bribery, theft or misuse of University property, fraudulent claims, fraud, coercion, willful omission to perform duty; or economic waste; or gross misconduct, gross incompetence or gross inefficiency; or any condition that may significantly threaten the health or safety of employees or the public. Then we urge you to be a whistleblower and report the unlawful activity.