Florida Advocates, Once Again, Seek to Expand What Is Punished as A Hate Crime
A number of Florida advocates and legislators are, once again, pushing to expand the coverage of what is considered (and thus punished as) a hate crime here in Florida. Although this is not the first time that legislators in Florida have sought to expand the state hate crime law, these efforts do appear to be gaining traction as the media covers more and more reported victims of hate crimes.
Specifically, there are a number of groups that are currently very concerned that Florida does not recognize gender or gender identity as a category under the hate crime statute, and they have repeatedly stated that this needs to change. These groups have a mission of “closing the gaps” in the state hate crime statute, which was passed in 1989. Their goal is to not only add gender and gender identity to those crimes covered under the statute, but to also expand coverage to any crimes committed against victims with physical and mental disabilities.
What The Law Does & Does Not Cover In Florida
In the timespan of just six months in 2018, five transgender women were reportedly killed in Florida (out of a total of 29 in the entire country). While 45 states, including Florida, have hate crime laws, only a portion of them cover gender, and even fewer cover gender identity. Florida has long as focused on factors such as ancestry, color, ethnicity, advanced age, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, and, more recently, homeless status. The state statute, like many other states, does not include gender or gender identity. To date, according to the statistics, most of the hate crimes in Florida are motivated by race or skin color, followed by religion and sexual orientation. On a national scale, according to the FBI, 22 percent of race-based hate crimes are committed against Caucasians, 40 percent of gender-based hate crimes are committed against men, and 12 percent of religion-based hate crimes are committed against Christians.
The Consequences of Changing These Laws
The consequence of adding additional categories to the definition of what is covered (and punished) under the current state hate crime statute would automatically make criminal convictions carry a harsher sentence, as well as allowing the crimes to be tracked.
Contact Our Florida Criminal Defense & Civil Rights Attorneys to Find Out More
While the two bills were introduced to this last session, they reportedly failed to make it out of committee. Still, if you have been suspected of committing any crime in Florida—including a hate crime—you need to consult with one of our experienced Orlando criminal defense attorneys right away in order to ensure that your rights are protected. Contact the Baez Law Firm today to find out how we can help. Our attorneys not only provide the very best in criminal defense in Florida, but in protecting your civil rights.