THE NEWS SERVICE
People who commit violent crimes against real-estate agents would face stiffer penalties under a measure that started to move Monday in the Senate. Members of the Criminal Justice Committee approved the proposal (SB 214), which would up the classification of assaults, batteries and sexual batteries against real-estate brokers, broker associates or sales associates when they are showing property.
Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, said he gets “nervous” about setting criminal laws that single out professions for special protections. But bill sponsor Nancy Detert, R-Venice, said the intent is to send a message rather than to make more people felons.
“It’s premeditated. They’re making an appointment with you to assault, murder or rob you,” Detert said. “It’s the stalking aspect. It’s the fact that it’s mostly a female occupation. Seventy percent of the crimes are against women. I think they’re being stalked, they’re being targeted.”
A 2015 National Association of Realtors survey, included in a staff analysis of the proposal, found that 40 percent of the association’s members “experienced a situation that made them fear for their personal safety or safety of their personal information.”
Of those responding to the survey, 2 percent indicated they had been robbed while working and 1 percent had been victims of assault. With less than three weeks left in the legislative session, the Senate proposal would still need to get through two additional committees.
A related House proposal (HB 47), filed by Rep. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, is ready to go to the full House.