Bill May Increase Penalties for Undocumented Immigrants Who Commit Florida Crimes
Florida lawmakers recently advanced a bill that would increase penalties for certain classes of violent offenses and sex crimes if the defendant is an undocumented immigrant, according to a report in Florida Politics dated March 27, 2017. The law previously passed the Justice Appropriations Subcommittee, but it faces stiff opposition from various civil rights groups and legislators that believe the measure is unconstitutional. One organization in particular, the Florida ACLU, stated that the bill violates the US Constitution because only the federal government has the authority to enact legislation regarding immigration. While the law may not impact offenders for some time – if it’s passed at all – it’s clear that accused individuals will need a tough attorney to fight violent and sex crimes charges.
Offenses the Proposed Law May Impact
Not all crimes will be covered under the bill before Florida lawmakers. The law includes:
- Sexual Battery: A person commits sexual battery by having non-consensual contact with the sex organs of another individual, using an object or sex organ. This type of crime may reach aggravated status if certain circumstances are present, such as threats of violence or if the victim is drugged.
- Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon: This crime involves an intentional threat against a victim with a deadly weapon, creating the reasonable assumption that violence is imminent. A “deadly” weapon is any object that an offender uses or threatens to use in a way that may cause death or serious injury.
- Murder: The intentional killing of another person is a homicide offense, and the new bill covers first, second, and third degree murder.
- Use of a Destructive Device: A common destructive device is a bomb; however, the definition may also include a type of device that is intended to discharge a projectile which may cause death or seriously bodily harm to any person in the vicinity. Any item that includes an explosive component or gas intended to explode would also qualify under this offense.
Increase in Penalties
Under the proposed legislation, a crime which would normally be a first degree misdemeanor would become a third degree felony when committed by an undocumented individual. In turn, a third degree felony is elevated to a second degree classification, and a second degree felony becomes a first degree felony. Serious cases involved a first degree felony would be treated as a life felony, potentially carrying a death penalty sentence.
An Experienced Florida Criminal Lawyer Will Fight for Your Rights
If the law regarding undocumented immigrants becomes effective, those accused of certain violent offenses and sex crimes may be facing considerable penalties. The offense itself is elevated, which means that jail time, fines, and probation are also more severe. It may be possible to contest the charges by presenting a strong defense, but you’ll need an experienced lawyer to protect your interests. Fort Lauderdale attorney Kevin J. Kulik has years of experience in representing clients in violent offense matters and sex crimes cases, and will aggressively defend against the charges. Please contact our office today for a confidential consultation or with questions about your case.