A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling will keep certain barriers in place for Floridians who have been convicted of sex crimes and other felonies and want to vote in state and other elections. The ruling comes after Florida voters approved a ballot measure to restore voting rights for ex-felons in 2018.
The high court in a 5-4 decision shot down a challenge to a Florida law requiring people with felony fees to pay any ordered restitution, court fines and fees before being allowed to vote. The law, passed after 64 percent of Florida voters approved a ballot initiative restoring ex-felon voting rights, has drawn sharp rebuke from critics who say it creates new hurdles to keep former convicts from voting.
The Supreme Court’s majority, led by Justice Clarence Thomas did not offer an opinion detailing the decision. Justice Sonya Sotamayor and others in dissent said the decision “prevents thousands of otherwise eligible voters from participating in Florida’s primary election simply because they are poor.”
“This Court’s inaction continues a trend of condoning disfranchisement,” Sotamayor wrote.
The high court’s decision spotlights just one of the many consequences that can come with a felony sex offense conviction in Florida. That includes a conviction for sexual assault, an offense that can apply to a wide range of activity – from inappropriate touching to rape – and which is often treated as a felony in Florida. Law enforcement officers and prosecutors take sexual assault allegations very seriously and often seek the maximum penalties as a result.
In addition to losing the right to vote, a person convicted of sexual assault or another sex offense in the Sunshine State is likely to face steep money penalties and serious prison time. That is not to mention the social stigma that can come with having to register as a sex offender, as well as the impact of a criminal record on a person’s ability to find and keep a job.
If you or a loved one has been charged with—or is even suspected of—a sex crime in Florida, it’s vital that you seek the help of a seasoned Florida sexual assault attorney.
The earlier that you seek legal advice, the better chance you have of avoiding a conviction or reducing the charges. An attorney can help you understand the charges against you, explore your options and build the strongest possible defense.
At Whittel & Melton, we represent clients throughout the state who have been charged with a wide variety of offenses, including sexual assault, solicitation and child pornography. Our attorneys work tirelessly to fight these charges head-on, fighting to get charges dropped or reduced whenever possible under the circumstances
We handle cases throughout the state, including in Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, Tallahassee, and Pensacola. Contact us online or call (866) 608-5529 for a free evaluation with a Florida sexual assault attorney.
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