A Florida man was sentenced to two years in a state prison on Sept. 18 for assaulting two gay men in Miami-Dade County on May 18. The custodial sentence was handed down after the man pleaded guilty to committing hate crimes. He was originally charged with battery according to media reports. The man may have chosen to forgo a jury trial because he confessed to launching the unprovoked attack to responding police and his confession was recorded by body cameras the officers were wearing.
Man spotted couple in park and then followed them
The couple were attacked while they were walking their dog in downtown Miami. According to police, the man became enraged after seeing the couple in a nearby park. He allegedly made hurled homophobic slurs at the two men while he repeatedly struck their heads and faces. When police officers questioned the man, body camera footage reveals that he said all gay men deserved to die.
Hate crime study
The man was sentenced just two days after prosecutors announced the results of a hate crime study conducted by researchers from Florida International University. Almost a third of the 400 adults surveyed told researchers that they had been the victim of a sexual or physical assault, but only 15% of them said that they reported the incident to law enforcement. About one in three of these reports led to an arrest.
Mounting a defense
Convincing prosecutors to recommend lenient sentences could be extremely difficult for defense attorneys when their clients admit to committing serious crimes like assault and battery and their confessions are recorded. This is why attorneys with criminal law experience may urge individuals who could be charged with violent crimes to rein in their emotions and say nothing before speaking with legal counsel.