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Criminal Convictions And The Loss Of Civil Rights

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In Florida, felony convictions may result in the loss of certain civil rights. Among those civil rights are the right to vote, the right to hold public office, the right to serve on a jury, and the right to own a firearm.

In Florida, any felony conviction - an adjudication of guilt - will result in the loss of your voting rights. These may be restored by a pardon or restoration of rights after the passage of 5-7 years after the sentence was imposed.

A withhold of adjudication will not result in the loss of your voting rights.

The right to hold a public office is governed under the same principal as that of voting. A felony conviction (not a withhold) will strip you of your right to hold a public office. However, through the clemency process, your right to hold a public office could one day be restored. The right to sit on a jury is also lost upon being convicted of a felony.

Any felony conviction will result in the loss of your right to own or possess a firearm. It is a second-degree felony in Florida to possess a firearm if you are a convicted felon.

As a Miami criminal attorney, I am often confronted with clients who must consider the loss of their civil rights in addition to other penalties for either accepting a plea that results in a felony conviction, or risking a trial and the conviction that could be imposed if found guilty.

If you are looking at a felony conviction, you must understand that by being convicted of a felony, you will lose the rights we have discussed.

Rights lost to felony convictions may be restored, including your right to own a firearm. The Florida Parole Commission's Office of Executive Clemency handles all applications for restoration of civil rights and firearm rights.

Eric Matheny is a Miami criminal attorney and Broward criminal attorney serving clients charged with misdemeanor and felony offenses.