Restoring Civil Rights After a Felony Conviction in Florida

civil rightsFlorida has almost one million people without civil rights due to felony convictions and is home to almost 20 percent of the country’s disenfranchised population. Your Florida criminal defense attorney can help you understand the qualifications for a restoration of civil rights and the process of regaining the right to vote.

Typical rights that felons lose in the Sunshine State include: 

  • Voting
  • Jury duty service
  • Running for public office

For those with past felony convictions in the state of Florida, suspension of their basic civil rights is a common occurrence, in addition to any prison sentences or fines they had to pay. Ex-felons suffer this stripping of their rights as a permanent reminder of their crimes, despite having served their sentences. It’s possible for them to file a clemency application with the Governor and Board of Executive Clemency, but this is a lengthy process that can take years to accomplish.

The Process of Restoring Your Civil Rights in Florida

In 2007, the Florida Board of Executive Clemency adopted a new framework for restoring the civil rights of those convicted of a felony offense, with three levels of approval for restoration depending on the severity of the offense. Those who had previously fallen within Level I had their rights restored automatically.

However, in March 2011, Governor Rick Scott made the process of restoring civil rights more stringent by removing the automatic restoration provisions. Under the rules, anyone convicted of a felony now needs to show three things to petition for restoration:

Completion of all prison sentences and supervision periods

Passage of at least five years since the completion of the sentence and supervision periods with no further criminal charges; those with violent felony convictions must wait at least seven years to petition

Payment of all ordered restitution

A person looking to restore his or her rights must fill out an application after the appropriate waiting period, which the Board will review. The Board separates applicants into those who require a hearing and those who do not, based on the convicted offenses of the applicant. The Board has a list of offenses that require a hearing, such as sexual offenses, RICO violations, and drug trafficking.

The Board then decides whether to restore rights, either based on the application or after a hearing. If the Board denies an applicant without a hearing, the applicant may choose to appeal the decision by having a hearing.

How Long Does the Restoration of Florida Rights Take?

Those looking to petition for the restoration of their rights are in for a long wait. In addition to the five or seven-year waiting period before a person may even apply for restoration, there is a significant delay in the time the Board takes to process applications. In July 2011, there was a backlog of 95,425 cases before the Board waiting for review.

You should also understand that when you file for clemency that the Florida Parole Commission may open up an investigation, and you might have to attend a hearing. Since there are no guarantees when you apply for your rights to get restored, it may feel like it’s a long wait with no reward, but many view these applications as a positive step in the right direction as part of your rehabilitation process. 

Don’t Apply Alone and Have A Supportive Orlando Attorney By Your Side

Felony convictions are serious matters and have criminal consequences that reverberate far beyond prison sentences and fines. If you are facing criminal charges contact an Orlando criminal defense attorney who can advocate for your interests and try to help prevent you from losing your rights. 

As former prosecutors, our attorneys have tried hundreds of cases, giving us a unique advantage over other Central Florida law firms. With more than 100 years of experience collectively between our team of attorneys, we are driven to fight for those in need of legal help. The Umansky Law Firm offers legal representation that is recognized by Florida Trend’s Legal Elite which demonstrates our commitment to helping Floridians everywhere protect their rights and futures when faced with legal challenges.

Contact The Umansky Law Firm online or call us today (407)228-3838 to get a better understanding of your restoration options.