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Florida Now Enhances Penalties for Crimes Against ... Real Estate Professionals?

Another bill now making its way through the Florida Legislature seeks to enhance penalties for crimes committed against real estate brokers, broker associates, and/or real estate sales associates who are attacked or victimized while showing a home or other property to the client/offender. Opponents of the bill claim that singling out specific, private-sector jobs for specialized treatment can quickly become a slippery slope; proponents claim, however, that increasing the severity of crimes committed against real estate professionals while they are engaged in their duties is appropriate given that many of these attacks involve assailants who lure or stalk their victims and wait for an opportune time to strike.

Why This Proposed Law May Be Unnecessary

Proponents of the bill are adamant that the deliberate and conniving way in which some crimes against real estate agents are carried out (some estimate only 2 percent of real estate agents in Florida are victimized while engaged in their job duties) warrants the creation of special sentencing laws. In Florida, when a person is convicted of a felony crime a “score” is computed based upon the convict’s criminal history. This initial score determines whether the court must sentence the defendant to a term of imprisonment. From there, the court can take the circumstances of the particular crime into account in imposing sentence (so long as the court stays within the established boundaries of the minimum and maximum sentence allowed by law). In other words, courts in Florida are already permitted to punish someone who commits a crime against a real estate agent engaged in the performance of his or her duties more severely than a person who commits a violent offense under other circumstances.

The other problem with this law is that it could encourage the creation of any number of similar laws that penalizes crimes committed against certain professionals while engaged in the performance of their duties. For example, would a law be appropriate that enhances the penalty for thefts or armed robberies committed against “trainees” at business establishments because they are likely more vulnerable and easily intimidated? Would it be desirable to penalize a criminal more for carrying out a violent crime against a late-night gas station clerk as opposed to a gas station clerk who works a day shift? It is easy to see how this can quickly spiral out of control.

Mitigating Your Florida Sentence

Just as the term of confinement for your felony conviction may be increased if there are certain aspects about the manner in which your crime was committed, your sentence may also be mitigated – or lessened – if certain facts and circumstances are brought to the attention of the court. South Florida criminal defense attorney Jeffrey S. Weiner knows the mitigating factors that can assist you in obtaining a more lenient sentence and is experienced in advocating forcefully for his clients. Contact his office today at (305) 670-9919 or through his online contact form.

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