What voters do in a given state often has local-only implications. In other instances, though, it sends a message that has broad relevance nationally and spotlights a matter that is important everywhere.
The Florida electorate recently spoke in a collective manner that is understandably garnering national attention and resonating with legions of Americans.
The focus of an amendment passed last month in that state that reportedly received widespread and bipartisan support was this: the restoration of voting rights for individuals previously convicted of felony crimes.
That was a big deal in Florida. It is estimated that the new law will re-enfranchise more than one million people in that state. Notably, eligibility does not extend to individuals convicted on murder or felony sex offense charges. Voting rights will otherwise be restored to individuals who have completed their sentences.
That is important, to be sure. Voting is a fundamental American right, which is withheld from various criminal offenders across the country, including in California.
The Florida news underscores the sheer gravity of a criminal charge, which can result in far more than the denial of voting rights. Legions of California offenders discover that a criminal conviction can bar them from getting employment, finding housing, being approved for a job-linked security clearance, gaining admission to a desired school or joining the military.
A proven California criminal defense attorney well appreciates those potential downsides, which is why experienced counsel will always fight hard to mitigate criminal consequences to the fullest extent possible. That means charge dismissal when possible, and the exploration of expungement when an offender is eligible for that benefit.