Despite Criticism by Voting Rights Groups, Court Rules That Floridians Must Pay All Fines Imposed by Criminal Courts Before Reinstating Their Voting Rights
When a judge hands down a prison sentence at your sentencing hearing, a cascade of fears floods your mind. Isolation from family and friends. Getting in fights every day until the bullies stop picking on you. The awful food. You don’t think about it as soon as you find out your sentence, but the long-term consequences of a felony conviction are even scarier. Probation officers watching your every move and sending you back to prison for something as minor as missing too many days of work or letting too many curse words slip out. Not getting to make up the parenting time you missed while you were locked up but still having to pay all the back child support (and losing your COVID-19 stimulus check in the process). The prospective employers who refuse to give you a chance. Perhaps the scariest part, though, is how hard it is to get your voting rights back. The recent ruling by a federal appeals court in Florida is not encouraging for voters attempting to reinstate their voting rights after completing the prison or probation portions of their sentences for felony convictions. A Central Florida drug crimes defense lawyer can help you cast your vote in the presidential election this November either by helping you avoid a felony conviction or by helping you reinstate your rights after you served your sentence for a previous felony conviction.
Voting Rights After a Felony Conviction in Florida
Until 2018, it was very difficult to get your voting rights back after a felony conviction; each person had to petition the governor, who would decide on a case by case basis whether to allow the person to vote. In 2018, Gov. Rick Scott signed into law a bill that automatically reinstated the voting rights of people who had completed the prison, parole, and probation terms of convictions for all crimes except murder and felony sexual offenses. In 2019, Gov. Ron DeSantis enacted a law that amended the previous one, namely by adding a requirement that people must also pay the fines that were handed down as part of their felony sentences before regaining the right to vote. In September 2020, just weeks before a presidential election where the Democratic and Republican candidates are practically tied for number of votes in Florida, a federal appeals court sided with DeSantis. If you have served your prison, parole, and probation terms but still owe fines to the court, you cannot vote in the presidential election this November.
Critics of the court decision say that it amounts to a poll tax. In the United States, it is illegal to charge people money to vote. In this year’s presidential election, your vote is more important than ever. Contact a lawyer now for help reinstating your voting rights.
Contact Us Today for Help
A Florida drug offense lawyer can protect or reinstate your right to vote in this election and in future elections. Contact FL Drug Defense Group to discuss your case.