3 thoughts on “So… Can People With Felonies Vote Again?

  1. In many counties in New Mexico, the court allows for community service in lieu of court costs & fees. Especially considering most defendants are indigent in the county I work in. Does that not happen in FL?

    1. Great question! This *can* happen in Florida. You can request that your fees/fines be converted to community service; I’m not sure about restitution. When I was practicing criminal law for whatever reason, judges didn’t do this at the time of sentencing. I’m not sure if that’s because of the law or just custom. But I did have a colleague who moved for a client’s fines/fees to be converted after-the-fact. as PDs, anything after sentencing was generally beyond our scope, the only reason my colleague was (arguably) able to do that for client was because client had a pending traffic case that hinged on her getting the fees/fines converted to community service. Our Judge at that time also very hilariously referred to the DMV as “the fourth branch of government” re the traffic cases. 2 other things about this option: 1) At a panel I attended recently re amendment 4, FL State Senator Randolph Bracy said that he believed his colleagues at the FL legislature would attempt to undermine or eliminate this option altogether in light of amendment 4. He also said that they are doing rocket-dockets (which is exactly what it sounds like, if y’all don’t use that term in NM) in Miami-Dade County to get as many people’s fines/fees converted before the next session as possible. I haven’t heard of anything similar here in Orange County. Everything Sen. Bracy said sounded like a dystopian nightmare so I’ve probably subconsciously been avoiding following up to see if that’s real. 2) Judge Hinkle made a comment that made me smile at the recent hearing: “You’re not going to win on the argument you’ve come up with some alternatives…If you had a $25,000 fine in a drug case, nobody’s going to work that off through community service hours.”

  2. The community service option here applies just for court costs and fees, not restitution. In some cases where the defendant can’t afford to pay back restitution, I’ll often sit down with them and their attorney and figure something out (as well as with the victim of course). This ideally helps promote a more restorative justice approach with more interaction between all the parties, if possible. Even in cases where the defendant owes thousands of dollars, while they are still going to have to pay some, negotiation and alternative options tend to work well so parties can avoid having to fight it out more in civil court. Haven’t really seen anything like rocket dockets! Not sure the courts here are evolved enough for that.

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