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Bill to Protect Real Estate Agents and Brokers Leads to Debate About Which Professions Should be Protected

In our society, a crime committed against another is deemed abhorrent and most people in our society believe that punishment should be extended to those who commit such a crime. There are, however, certain laws that make some crimes, depending on who the victim is, more felonious than others, where the punishment is increased in order to not only punish those who target populations, but also to deter those thinking of committing the crime.

Currently, the Law Protects The Most Vulnerable With Harsher Punishments

Largely, the law protects those who cannot protect themselves, such as the sick, the elderly, and those who have limited physical and mental capabilities. The law also protects those who are from a racial or ethnic population; a crime against these individuals is known as a hate crime, which raises the crime to a federal offense, depending on the facts of the case. Then there are those in certain professions where additional protections are extended because these people provide a service that puts them in vulnerable positions; these protections largely are for those in law enforcement, those who consistently work with strangers, like transportation operators, and others.

The Bill to Protect Real Estate Brokers, Associates, and Sales Associates

In Florida, a recent bill was put forth to protect real estate brokers, broker associates or sales associates from certain types of assaults, batteries, and sexual batteries while showing properties. The bill was drafted when it came to the light the extent in which real estate brokers were the victims of armed robbery, kidnapping, sexual assault, and other acts of violence.

Studies Show that Realtors and Brokers are At Risk for Assault, Armed Robbery, and Battery

Studies show that in the last three years, attacks on realtors were up by 500 percent and that the majority of the realtors attacked (70 percent) were female. The National Association of Realtors assessed the situation in a 2015 study where realtors and brokers were asked about any encounter while performing duties of their position that made them fear for their personal safety or the safety of their personal information. Forty percent of those polled affirmed that they had felt fear for their personal safety or personal information because of their job. Of those that had been polled, 2 percent had indicated that they had been robbed during their job and 1 percent stated that they had been assaulted.

Reasoning of Opponents To the Bill

There are several opponents to the bill who hesitate to start the trend of singling out certain professions as being more at risk than others. In certain situations where the employment was singled out, it was because the profession was one that was, by virtue of the role, more likely to be in precarious situations or could lead to precarious situations. For example, law enforcement are more protected, because law enforcement, by virtue of their positions, put themselves in dangerous roles with dangerous and violent criminals.

Reasoning of Proponents for the Bill

However, those in favor of this bill believe that brokers and realtors are more at risk because their job description involves going to isolated homes with strangers. Also, the types of crimes that occur against brokers and realtors while they are performing their jobs are premeditated. An appointment is made in advance so that the broker or realtor will be in a private home with a stranger. The assault or robbery that takes place is thought of beforehand, and there is an element of stalking that is present.

Ultimately, this bill was silenced in the Florida Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice recently but there is a likelihood that the bill will be edited, redrafted, and show up on the floor again.

Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Fort Lauderdale

Crimes against vulnerable populations are punished more harshly than with other crimes. If you or a loved one has been charged with committing an offense against someone who is a member of a protected population, it is important that you speak with an experienced defense attorney like Kevin J. Kulik as the sentences associated with these crimes are stricter and harsher than in other situations. Contact Kevin J. Kulik today for a free and confidential consultation in the Fort Lauderdale area.

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