Palm Seashore County State Legal professional Dave Aronberg not too long ago determined to not cost Alexander Jerich with a hate crime for deliberately defacing the Delray Seashore LGBTQ Delight Intersection. Aronberg’s resolution highlights a big drawback with a slender interpretation of the legislation.
Florida’s hate crime legislation requires enhanced penalties when a criminal offense “evidences prejudice based mostly on the race, shade, ancestry, ethnicity, faith, sexual orientation, nationwide origin, homeless standing or superior age of the sufferer.”
In keeping with police division’s Possible Trigger Affidavit, Jerich’s cohorts directed him to “tear up that homosexual intersection.” So, even the perpetrator acknowledged his “sufferer” as homosexual.
Nonetheless, Aronberg decided the legislation required “the defendant choose a selected sufferer based mostly on sexual orientation…. [and because] a metropolis has no sexual orientation, the state’s hate crime enhancement legislation can’t apply.”
Having decided the “sufferer” was the Delray Seashore and never the LGBTQ Delight Intersection, Aronberg refused to cost Jerich with a hate crime.
Would Aronberg refuse invoke the hate crimes legislation if vandals painted swastikas and anti-Semitic slurs on the sidewalk in entrance of a kosher butcher store? Evidently method.
Aronberg’s slender interpretation of the legislation shines a light-weight on the issue: the legislation could not adequately punish all hate crimes. Subsequently, Aronberg should work with the Legislature to make sure the legislation is amended to deal with all crimes based mostly on prejudice — no matter whether or not the sufferer is an individual or a public place.
A second legislation Aronberg refused to make use of was Florida’s Combatting Public Dysfunction Act, which offers anybody who “willfully and maliciously defaces, injures, or in any other case damages by any means a memorial…. and the worth of the injury to the memorial…. is bigger than $200, commits a felony of the third diploma…. [and, if convicted, pays] restitution, which shall embrace the total value of restore or alternative of such memorial…”
Jerich’s actions, caught on video, demonstrated that every component of the legislation was met. Had Aronberg secured a felony conviction beneath this legislation, Jerich would have been required to reimburse Delray Seashore for the price incurred by the taxpayers to restore the intersection.
Relying solely on the remaining fees, Aronberg now should be certain that Jerich is convicted of a felony, serves time behind bars, and reimburses the Metropolis of Delray Seashore.
In need of that, we should query whether or not justice has been served.
Decide Rand Hoch (ret.), president and founder
Palm Seashore County Human Rights Council