What Is The Process Involved In Having Your Civil Rights Restored?
It is actually quite a long, arduous process. There are several different types of restoration one may apply for. You can put an application in to restore your civil rights, meaning your right to vote, hold office, rights to sit on a jury etc. There’s also a separate application that you could fill out for the specific authority to own, possess or use a firearm. That is just like asking for your civil rights to be restored but with the added addition of now getting your right to possess a firearm restored.
You can also ask for a full pardon. If you’re not a legal U.S. citizen, you can apply for restoration of alien status. Even if you owe a large fine, you can apply to see if your fines can be waived.
Once The Application Is Completed, What Is The Next Step?
Your attorney will help you fill out the application and they will also assist you in getting your fingerprints taken. They will order your certified felony judgment and sentence of the felony conviction(s), everything is then mailed out to Tallahassee.
Tallahassee is where four people decide if your rights will be restored. Currently, it’s the Governor and the members of his cabinet; in this case the Attorney General, Chief Financial Officer, and the Commissioner of Agricultural & Consumer Services.
Once everything is turned in it’s a long waiting period. The Governor and the members of the cabinet meet four times a year, March, June, September and December. There is a backlog right now so anybody who is hoping to have their rights restored within just a few months, sorry but it won’t happen.
It can take multiple years. Many times depending on the charges, there may be a request for an in-person hearing instead of just looking at the application. Many times the attorney or even the applicant can travel to Tallahassee to argue in person to the board.
Is There A Certain Time Period Which You Must Wait Once You’re Convicted Of A Felony To Before You’re Trying To Restore Your Rights?
There is, and it really depends on what type of rights are you trying to restore. For instance, if you want complete civil rights restoration including firearms, you must wait 8 years after the completion of your sentence. It doesn’t mean the day you were sentenced, rather it means the day you completed your prison or probation term. If it’s just something you’re looking for like restoration of voting rights, it’s either 5 or 7 years after completion of the sentence. Finally if you’re looking for a full pardon, then you must wait 10 years until after the completion of your sentence.
What Are The Biggest Challenges That People Face In This Whole Process Of Trying To Restore Their Civil Rights?
First of all, the biggest challenge is time. It’s something that people have to be prepared for and know that going before the Clemency Board is not always easy, and it is a time-consuming process. The clemency board right now is dealing with applications that could be 3 to 5 years old, so it’s not something you’re going to get heard right away. You’d have to be patient and wait a little bit. That’s a big challenge.
Another challenge or tip is you may want to consider including some letters of recommendation from what we call the “Pillars of the Community”. These are just letters from fellow citizens you may know in the law enforcement, government, or religious community. It can be challenging if people don’t really have a friend, a neighbor, a boss, somebody who is considered the pillar of the community so that could be a challenge in and of itself.
Finally, and unfortunately the biggest challenge which is out of people’s hands, it’s what’s on the mind of the members of the cabinet, the people that actually grant restoration. You can fill out a lot of the paperwork and you can do everything right but a lot of it is out of your hands.
If you need answers to Frequently Asked Questions About The Process Of Civil Rights Restoration, call the law office of Blake & Dorsten P.A. for a FREE Initial Consultation at (727) 286-6141 and get the information and legal answers you’re seeking.