Clemency for Felons in Florida to Start Automatically after Completion of Sentence
On Thursday, Florida Governor Charlie Crist has made the process for the restoration of civil rights much easier. Effective immediately, under the new approved changes via a vote of 3-1, officials in Florida will automatically begin the process for restoring rights of felons who have served their sentence. Felons who have previously completed their sentences before the vote became law will still have to apply for clemency on their own.
Gov. Christ, unlike his predecessor Rep. Jeb Bush, spearheaded the vote of 3-1 to have civil rights restored to felons. Republican Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Bronson and Democrat state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink also favored the change, while Republican Attorney General Bill McCollum was the sole opponent.
Clemency in Florida previously involved waiting for a board hearing, which in many cases was a process that could exceed one year for a felon to be reviewed before the board. Although many felons took the tedious steps to have their rights restored, the majority were denied.
Clemency is a constitutionally authorized process that provides the means through which convicted felons may seek restoration of their civil rights (RCR) and may be considered for relief from punishment.
The restoration of civil rights for convicted felons in the state of Florida has been a topic of much debate during recent years. Previously, convicted felons in Florida, unlike many other states in the US, did not automatically have their civil rights restored.
The civil rights that felons can have restored are the right to vote, the right to serve on a jury, right to hold public office, and the right to be considered for occupational and employment licenses. The restoration of the right to have a firearm will not be automatic.
Questions concerning Clemency (Source: Florida Department of Corrections)
- If I am released from custody or supervision from the Florida Department of Corrections, how can my civil rights be restored?
At the completion of your sentence, the Florida Department of Corrections will automatically submit an electronic application for you to the Parole Commission for eligibility review for restoration of civil rights without a hearing. If determined eligible, your name will go to the Clemency Board for a 30-day review, and if no objection from two or more Board Members is received, your rights will be restored and a certificate of restoration of civil rights will be mailed to your last known address. If you are determined ineligible by the Commission, or receive objections from the Board, you will be notified that the restoration process may continue if you contact the Office of Executive Clemency and request a hearing and agree to participate in the investigative process.
- What rights are restored?
The basic civil rights that are restored are: the right to vote, the right to serve on a jury, and the right to hold public office. In addition, restoration of civil rights may allow you to be considered for certain types of employment licenses. The right to own, possess, or use firearms requires an application and there is a waiting period of eight years from the date sentence expired or supervision terminated.
- Do I need an attorney to handle my application?
No, you do not need an attorney to represent you in the clemency process.
- Is there a filing fee for the application process?
No, there is no fee involved. This is a service provided free of charge by the State of Florida.
- If my case is scheduled for a clemency hearing, do I have to attend the hearing?
No, it is not a requirement for any individual to attend the clemency hearing, although in rare cases, the Governor or any Board Member may request that an individual appear to answer specific questions about his or her case.
- If adjudication of guilt was withheld in my case, do I need restoration of civil rights?
No, if adjudication of guilt was withheld in your case, you have not lost your civil rights. However, per the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Firearms Purchase Program, you are prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms for at least three years from the date your supervision terminated.
- If I receive clemency, will my record be expunged?
No. Neither a full pardon, nor any other type of clemency, will expunge or facilitate the expungement of your criminal record. You should contact the Florida Department of Law Enforcement at email@example.com for information on the expungement or sealing of records.
For More Information
Anyone needing information on the restoration of civil rights process should contact the Office of Executive Clemency:
Phone at: 850-488-2592
Fax at: 850-488-0695
Email at: Clemencyweb@fpc.state.fl.us
Mail at: The Office of Executive Clemency
2601 Blair Stone Road, Building C
Tallahassee, FL 32399-2450
Media Inquiries should be directed to Jane Tillman at 850-921-2816 or JaneTillman@fpc.state.fl.us
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