Restore Civil Rights
Restoration of Civil Rights in Florida
Restore Civil Rights: How to Restore Your Civil Rights in Florida. All about the Restoration of Civil Rights Law in Florida. In 2007 new laws were passed that allow certain convicted felons to have their civil rights restored automatically or without a hearing.
According to Level 1: Rule 9 felons will receive automatic approval of their application for restoration of civil rights after completing their sentence, probation, and restitution payments to victims providing there are no pending criminal charges.
The application to restore civil rights will be denied if the felon has been declared a habitual violent felony offender; a three-time violent felony offender; a violent career criminal; a prison releasee reoffender; or a sexual predator.
Restoration of civil rights under the 2007 law restores all of the rights of citizenship enjoyed before a felony conviction -- voting, jury duty, and seeking elected office.
Owning, using, or possessing a firearm is specifically excluded in the law change, and requires an eight year waiting period; a separate application; and prior restoration of other civil rights.
More information, forms, and procedures can be found at the Florida ACLU website.
At the completion of a felon’s sentence, the Florida Department of Corrections will automatically submit an electronic application to the Florida Parole Commission for eligibility review to restore civil rights without a hearing.
The case will be processed either as Level I (automatic approval of restoration of civil rights) or Level II (restore civil rights without a hearing by preliminary review list).
If determined eligible as a Level I case (automatic restoration of civil rights) the felon’s name will be submitted to the Executive Clemency Board on an Executive Order for approval to restore civil rights.
The certificate will be mailed to the last known address once the order has been signed. Convicted felons are encouraged to take a proactive role to ensure that their civil rights have, in fact, been restored. In case, the address on record is incorrect or the individual has moved he may not receive the certificate.
Note that restoration of civil rights is not the same as expunction of records. When criminal records are expunged, they are removed from public records and will not appear in most criminal background searches.
But, when civil rights are restored the criminal record will appear, but the individual will have regained his rights.
Prior to this law change in 2007, Florida was one of only a few remaining states to strip convicted felons of their civil rights, including their right to vote, even after their sentences were completed and, in theory, the offender had paid his debt to society.
Civil rights activists and public outcry finally brought about the change. Many groups claim that Florida’s long time ban to restore civil rights was discriminatory, because a high percentage of convicted felons are members of minority groups.
A letter dated, March 22, 2010, from the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition to the Florida Board of Executive Clemency demands more reforms and states:
While the 2007 changes to the Clemency Rules were an important first step in returning the right to vote to tens of thousands of previously convicted persons, the Parole Commission is unable to timely process RCR cases.Article by Ruth Beyer, 2010.
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