TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida’s hate crime law may very well be expanded to create enhanced penalties for individuals who commit offenses in opposition to somebody based mostly on their gender or gender identification below a bill accredited by a Senate committee Tuesday.
The Senate Criminal Justice Committee voted 5-2 for the laws, which would enhance the extent of crime if it’s motivated by these elements. For instance, a first-degree misdemeanor would develop into a third-degree felony and a third-degree felony would develop into a second-degree felony.
The bill additionally expands the definition of incapacity below present law that protects individuals from hate crimes. Current law consists of disabilities “due to a developmental disability, organic brain damage, or mental illness.” The bill would embody any incapacity that creates limits on an individual’s main life actions.
“Hate crimes are a rot. They are a stain on our society,” mentioned Democratic Sen. Lori Berman, the bill’s sponsor. “This bill is actually more than just a vehicle for increasing sentences. It recognizes that hate-motivated acts strike special fear in the entire community and that we here in Florida won’t tolerate it.”
The state’s present law gives enhanced penalties for crimes based mostly on the race, colour, ancestry, ethnicity, faith, sexual orientation, nationwide origin, homeless standing and the superior age of the sufferer.
Republican Sen. Keith Perry mentioned he opposed the bill as a result of he didn’t suppose one crime sufferer ought to get particular therapy over one other sufferer of the identical crime that was not motivated by hate.
“It’s hard for me to imagine that we would take equal crimes and tell the victims or the families of the victims that we’re going to now do more for one victim than another victim,” Perry mentioned. “There are equal crimes and there should be equal justice under those crimes.”
The bill has two extra committee stops earlier than being heard by the total Senate.
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