Florida voters last year approved a state Constitution amendment to give people who have been convicted of crimes the right to participate in elections after they serve their punishments. But that amendment leaves out people who have been convicted of murder or a felony sex offense.
Even people with other sex offenses or criminal convictions on their records may not automatically have their voting rights restored, if a plan floated in the state legislature is approved. A House Criminal Justice subcommittee recently cleared a measure to implement Amendment 4, which granted felons “automatic” voting rights. That legislation would exclude people convicted of a wide range of sex crimes from being able to vote.
The legislation would also require convicts to clear up court costs, fees and fines before having their rights restored. That provision has drawn sharp criticism from felon rights groups who say it creates new hurdles to keep former convicts from voting.
“The bill places unconstitutional restrictions on the eligibility to vote for individuals who should have their voting rights restored, as Floridians intended,” the American Civil Liberties Union said after the subcommittee approved the measure. “Among other deficiencies, the bill creates additional financial barriers to voting that were not considered a part of a person’s sentence after receiving sentencing instructions from a judge and conditions the right of people who are eligible to vote on whether or not they can afford to pay fees.”
A total of 64 percent of voters approved Amendment 4 in November. The provision provided that felons who have completed “all terms of their sentence including parole or probation” would automatically get the right to vote restored.
“Sex crimes” is a general term that applies to a wide range of offenses, from sexting to child pornography and rape. These crimes carry significant potential punishments that can have lifelong impacts for everyone involved. That includes long stretches behind bars and steep fines. You may also be required to register publicly as a sex offender. The stigma that comes with that status can make it difficult 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 assistance of a seasoned Florida sex crimes lawyer. A lawyer can help build the strongest possible defense in the case. The earlier that you seek legal advice the better chance you have to avoiding a conviction or reducing the charges.
The Florida sex crimes lawyers at Whittel & Melton represent clients throughout the Sunshine State who have been charged with a wide variety of offenses, including sexual assault, rape and child pornography. Our attorneys work tirelessly to fight these charges head on. We have offices throughout the state, including in Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, Tallahassee, and Pensacola. Contact us online or call (866) 608-5529 for a free evaluation.
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