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Tampa Criminal Attorney > Blog > Assault Battery > Florida Man: I Was Beaten in a Hate Crime Assault

Florida Man: I Was Beaten in a Hate Crime Assault


A Coconut Grove man said two assailants shouted gay slurs while they beat him and left him for dead on the street one night.

The man said he was targeted while he was walking home, just after midnight. The victim said two men punched and kicked him over and over again while they called him an offensive slur for a gay man. Following the incident, doctors used metal plates to surgically reconstruct his face. “I want people to know that there’s crime out there, but just be cognizant of – awareness of your surroundings,” the man said.

Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said she was looking into the attack and was determined to bring the responsible parties to justice.

Levels of Assault

Aggravated assault and attempted murder are the most serious assault charges in Florida. Given the severe injuries the alleged victim sustained, either charge could be appropriate. Intent separates the two.

Attempted murder requires the intent to kill. Prosecutors typically use conduct to prove intent. This conduct could be during the assault, like the aforementioned serious injuries, or prior to the conduct (e.g. posting hateful things about homosexuals on social media). The aggravated assault mens rea (criminal state of mind) is easier to prove. Prosecutors must simply show that the defendant intended to seriously hurt the alleged victim ,which is exactly what happened in this case.

Incidentally, murder and aggravated assault are specific intent crimes. The defendant must intend the conduct (hitting the alleged victim) and the result (seriously hurting or killing the alleged victim). As a matter of law, intoxicated people cannot commit specific intent crimes. Their alcohol-soaked brains cannot complete this thought process.

Ordinary assault is the most common assault charge in Hillsborough County. Prosecutors must only establish an intentional injury. Once again, conduct establishes intent. A Tampa assault & battery lawyer might be able to convince jurors that an alleged victim ran into a wall or fell down the stairs. But this defense rarely works.

Lack of credible evidence is a much more effective defense in assault cases. Many alleged victims, especially aggravated assault alleged victims, don’t get good looks at their attackers. Additionally, there’s a good chance the alleged victim was drinking at the time of the incident. These issues cast grave doubt on lineup identifications, as well as the alleged victim’s overall recall.

The “Hate” Crime “Law”

Why did we put these two words in quotation marks? We’re glad you asked. Hate is not an element of the hate crime law. Instead, the state must prove the defendant targeted the alleged victim because s/he was in a protected class, such as:

  • Ethnicity (nonwhite),
  • Gender (non-male),
  • Advanced age,
  • Religious preference, or
  • Sexual orientation.

The defendant’s subjective belief is all that counts. If the defendant thought the alleged victim was gay, the law could apply.

Furthermore, the law is not a law but an enhancement. Additional penalties apply in these cases. Additionally, the government endters the defendant’s name into a hate crime database. At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, inclusion in a government database is usually a bad thing.

Single-witness (the alleged victim’s testimony with no corroborating proof) cases and enhancements are almost impossible to establish beyond a reasonable doubt. Your word against mine might hold up in civil court in some cases. But it never holds up in criminal court in any situation.

 Count on a Tough-Minded Hillsborough County Attorney

A criminal charge is not the same thing as a criminal conviction. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Tampa, contact the OA Law Firm. Convenient payment plans are available.



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