Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Miami Beach Man Charged with Hate Crime While Cycling

Vicious crimes such as those committed against James Byrd in Texas and Matthew Shepard in Wyoming brought the debate over hate crimes legislation onto the national stage. Should the penalty for a crime be harsher when the act was motivated by a certain characteristic of the victim? If so, which groups of people should receive legal protection from crimes borne of hate? One man in Miami is finding out this week how Florida law treats those whose criminal activity stems from prejudice.

Pichardo Dearmas was charged over the weekend with assault with prejudice. As Dearmas was riding his bicycle in Miami Beach, he found himself spinning towards Rabbi Abraham S. Mann. With either a horrible sense of perception or no real intention of making contact, he then swatted at Mann from several feet away and called him a “f***ing Jew.” When questioned by police, Dearmas could not explain any reasoning behind his vulgar action. Regardless of his lack of a convincing justification (not that I can think of a possible one at this time), the slap-happy criminal now finds himself accused of a first-degree misdemeanor. This charge brings up to a $1000 fine and a year in prison.

While Florida law covers "prejudice based on the race, color, ancestry, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, mental or physical disability, or advanced age of the victim,” the state’s hate-crime laws were first put in place in 1989 following a series of synagogue vandalisms. Since then, the legislation had come into play with issues of underground high school publications, Eucharist smuggling and the beating of a homeless man.

If you have been accused of a hate crime and need solid, aggressive representation, Bertolino LLP has attorneys with experience in criminal defense who are ready to help you. Please contact us and let’s discuss the details of your case.

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