Hate Crime Offenses and Penalty Enhancements

Florida’s Hate Crime Statute is an enhancement statute, which means that there must first be an underlying crime committed before the Hate Crime enhancement can be applied.

Pursuant to Florida Hate Crime Statute 775.085, a defendant found guilty of a hate crime could be subject to the following penalties:

1. A misdemeanor of the second degree is reclassified to a misdemeanor of the first degree. (A person convicted of a misdemeanor of the first degree may be sentenced to a definite term of imprisonment not exceeding 1 year.)

2. A misdemeanor of the first degree is reclassified to a felony of the third degree. (A person convicted of a felony of the third degree may be sentenced to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 5 years.)

3. A felony of the third degree is reclassified to a felony of the second degree. (A person convicted of a felony of the second degree may be sentenced to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 15 years.)

4. A felony of the second degree is reclassified to a felony of the first degree. (A person convicted of a felony of the first degree may be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 30 years.)

5. A felony of the first degree is reclassified to a life felony. (A person convicted of a life felony may be sentenced to a term of imprisonment for life.)

OVERVIEW: It is an essential element of this section that the record reflects that the defendant perceived, knew, or had reasonable grounds to know or perceive that the victim was within the class delineated in this section.

 

Select Category Definitions According to Florida Hate Crime Statute 775.085


Advanced age means that the victim is older than 65 years of age. Homeless status means that the victim:

a. Lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence; or

b. Has a primary nighttime residence that is:

(I) A supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designed to provide temporary living accommodations; or

(II) A public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings.

(2) A person or organization that establishes by clear and convincing evidence that it has been coerced, intimidated, or threatened in violation of this section has a civil cause of action for treble damages, an injunction, or any other appropriate relief in law or in equity. Upon prevailing in such civil action, the plaintiff may recover reasonable attorney fees and costs.