The law and most people agree on the need to dole out punishments to individuals who commit crimes against other individuals. Going further, certain crimes of this nature tend to be graver, often because of the age, mental health, general health, and/or physical capabilities of the victim.
In response, the law stipulates stiffer punishments for these crimes that appear to target certain populations. The reason for the stiffer punishments is twofold. First, to fulfil the basic tenet of justice that offenders face appropriate punishment. The second reason is to serve as a practical deterrent to those who may contemplate committing these graver crimes.
Increased Protection of the Most Vulnerable
The success of a crime hugely depends on the vulnerability of the victim. Knowing this, the law protects persons (or more accurately populations) who show overreaching inability to protect themselves. These populations include the elderly, the sick, and individuals with limited mental and/or physical capabilities.Furthermore, the law also protects individuals who belong to certain racial or ethnic populations that historically have disproportionately been victims of certain crimes. The legal terminology for crime against individuals in these protected populations is “hate crime.”
In similar vein, members of certain professions also receive additional protections if they provide a service that places them in vulnerable positions. These professions include law enforcement, transportation operators, professions that consistently or primarily caters to strangers, etc.
The Florida Bill to Protect Real Estate Brokers, Associates, and Sales Associates
To this end, a recent bill emanated that sought to protect real estate brokers, broker associates, or sales associates from certain kinds of assaults, batteries, and sexual batteries while the professionals showed properties. The reason for the bill was to curtail the disproportionate targeting of real estate brokers by criminals perpetrating armed robbery, burglary, sexual assault, kidnapping, and other violent acts.
What the Stats Say
Recent studies show that the rate of attack and crimes against realtors had grown by 500 percent within a period of just three (3) years. More worrying is the shocking fact that 70% of realtors attacked or victimized were female. Furthermore, a 2015 study conducted by the National Association of Realtors, 40% of polled realtors affirmed that they had experienced fear for their personal safety or personal information because of their job. 2% indicated that they were victims of robbery in the process of carrying out their jobs, and 1% attested to been assaulted.
For those in favor of the bill, the stats could not be clearer—realtors face considerable risk in the course of carrying out their jobs. The major contributing factors of this risk include:
- That realtors, in the course of their jobs, have to go to isolated homes with strangers
- That the typical crimes perpetrated against realtors and brokers in the course of their jobs carry an unflinching sign of premeditation. An appointment to get the broker or realtor to a private home with a stranger is made well in advance to the actual encounter. Therefore, the robbery or assault that occurs is pre-arranged and includes an element of stalking.
Those who oppose the bill say that the real estate professions seeking protection under the bill do not yet convincingly meet the core reason to single out a profession for increased legal protection. To put it simply, opponents believe that the risks emphasized by proponents do not yet share the same level as risks faced by professions currently protected, such as law enforcement.
In the end, the bill met an abrupt end by the Florida Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice. In any case, the likelihood exists that another form, variation, or edited version of the bill may be redrafted sometime in the future, especially if current trends persist or get worse.
Experienced, Top-notch Criminal Defense Attorney in Broward County
It is no secret that crimes against individuals in vulnerable populations or demographics receive harsher punishments. Therefore, if you or your loved one has been charged with perpetrating a crime against an individual belonging to a protected population, it is very important that you consult an experienced defense attorney with requisite knowledge and wherewithal to respond to such charges appropriately. Do not hesitate to contact us today for a free and confidential consultation in Broward County, Fort Lauderdale and other neighboring areas.