September 19, 2022
Several years ago, Florida grabbed the nation’s attention when it passed a state constitutional amendment related to voting rights. During a moment in U.S. history when most voting rights stories concern voter suppression, this story out of Florida served as a ray of hope for millions of people across the country who hope to one day be in a position to cast a vote again.
Florida’s 2018 Constitutional Amendment 4 restored voting rights to the majority of Floridians who had previously been convicted of criminal conduct but had since served their debt to society. This policy shift, which was overwhelmingly supported by Floridians as a whole, served as an important point of recognition that the criminal justice system primarily serves as a way to deter criminal conduct and to hold individuals accountable for wrongdoing – not to brand most offenders with their crimes for the rest of their lives. This amendment reinforced the reality that once someone has served the terms of their sentence, they should be allowed to fully reintegrate into society without the weight of past conduct constantly weighing them down.
Unfortunately, and perhaps somewhat predictably, former Floridian criminal offenders are now facing hazards at polling places in the Sunshine State. Individuals who are unaware that they have outstanding unpaid fines on their criminal record – which means that the terms of a criminal sentence or another aspect of their criminal offense process remain unresolved, often in very minor ways – have been arrested and charged with fraud for “voting with unpaid fines or court fees.”
Prosecutors who are eager to claim victory on a technicality are going after individuals whose rights have been restored for “voting while ineligible” simply because they have minor fines on their record, often as a result of brief detainment in a county jail during some point in their justice journeys.
Restoring Rights, Protecting Your Future
The experienced Vero Beach, FL criminal defense lawyer team at Tuttle Larsen, P.A. is passionate about advocating on behalf of the rights of those who have been accused of criminal wrongdoing. Our passion for advocacy doesn’t end when charges against a client are dropped or a client is convicted of charges but we’ve been able to successfully mitigate the consequences they’ll face as a result of that conviction. Our dedication to our clients, and to working for a fair application of justice within the criminal justice system as a whole, is sustained for as long as our clients need us.
If you have served the terms of your sentence but you are still afraid to vote because of the disturbing stories in the news of prosecuting voters who exercise their right to cast a ballot with unpaid fines on their record, connect with us today for some help. We can help to verify whether there are any unpaid fines on your account and whether it is truly safe for you to cast a vote. We are here to help, regardless of where you are in your criminal justice journey timeline.