The potential motivation for a hate crime lies in an individual's predisposition towards another on the ground of race, gender, sexual orientation, or physical condition. Essentially, it is a targeted act. The individual who commits the hate crime did so because they selected a specific person that embodied a condition that served as motivation for the crime. Some individuals, like Dr. Alvin Poussaint of Harvard, believe that hate crimes are motivated by an individual's fear or insecurity towards a group of people. The act of the hate crime gives their sagging ego a boost, as if they are in belief that they are able to right a perceived wrong. As economics are becoming a challenging element for many, individuals who already are struggling with both emotional and material challenges also are attributing their actions against a group of people out of the belief that something has been taken, such as jobs, economic prosperity, or entitlement of wealth.
The whole concept of hate crimes hinges on motivation. In other words, you cannot be guilty of a hate crime due simply to an act. Instead, you are guilty of a hate crime for having a certain motivation, coupled with a given act.
Right now, a person can be prosecuted under federal hate crime laws if you do certain things to other people because of their religion, their race, their color, their national origin or, now, their sexual orientation.
So, in order for something to be a hate crime it must be motivated by hatred for a person because of one of the listed attributes.
The motivation for hate crime are very much similar to the the motivation for other crimes to the extent that both are motivated by emotions like greed, jealousy, fear, and false sense of pride. The difference is only in the way these negative feelings are aroused and the person against whom the crime is directed.
In other kinds of crime the negative emotions are directed specifically towards the victim of the crime, and the person expects to gain directly by hurting the victim. But in case the negative feelings are not directed against a specific person but against a whole group to which the victim belongs, and the pay off from the crime are expected to be in the form of damaging and weakening the whole group in the long run. Thus a person who targets a person from a particular community for robbery is committing a crime of robbery, rather than a hate crime.
Also it is important to note that the hate in hate crimes is the result of prejudices and stereotypes. To begin with the assumptions or beliefs held about a community may or may not be correct. Even when correct these may be highly exaggerated. Then the difference that do exist may be really harmless. Finally, the particular victim of a hate crime may or may not posses the presumably offending trait supposed to be possessed by the whole group.
One motivation for hate crime that makes it particularly difficult to control it is the hate crimes committed in retaliation. This starts a long chain of attacks and counter attacks between different groups.
Hate crimes are usually spurred on by an ungoverned deep rooted sense of anger, fear, or jealousy. Each of these emotions festers within a person until the right catalyst comes along and sets the crime/action into motion.
Hate crimes can be spontaneous or planned. There are hate crimes that happen in moments of passion and those that occur under calm circumstances. However, very few hate crimes occur without some developing prelude that leads up to the act.
Victim characteristics can also be a motivation for hate crimes. For example the hatred of a race, religion, sexual preference, or feature of a person.
Hate crimes can include aggravated and simple assault, intimidation, vandalism, and murder.