Florida Senate - 2017 SB 934 By Senator Thurston 33-01358-17 2017934__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to restoration of civil rights; 3 providing a short title; providing legislative 4 findings and purpose; creating s. 944.294, F.S.; 5 defining the term “completion of sentence”; providing 6 for automatic restoration of a former felon’s civil 7 rights, other than the right to own, possess, or use 8 firearms, after completion of his or her sentence of 9 incarceration and conditions of supervision; providing 10 conditions for and exemptions from automatic 11 restoration; requiring a court to notify a defendant 12 of specified information under certain circumstances; 13 requiring the Secretary of State to develop and 14 implement a program to educate the public about the 15 civil rights of people who have felony convictions; 16 amending ss. 944.292 and 944.705, F.S.; conforming 17 provisions; providing retroactive applicability; 18 providing a contingent effective date. 19 20 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 21 22 Section 1. Short title.—This act may be cited as the 23 “Restoration of Civil Rights Act.” 24 Section 2. Findings and purpose.— 25 (1) FINDINGS.—The Legislature finds that: 26 (a) The exercise of civil rights is a fundamental aspect of 27 citizenship. Restoring civil rights allows former felons to 28 participate in public service, serve on juries, and pursue 29 chosen occupations. 30 (b) Restoring civil rights helps felons who have completed 31 their sentences to reintegrate into society. Having 32 opportunities to fully participate in society reinforces their 33 ties to their communities and may help to prevent recidivism. 34 (c) Under current law, all persons convicted of felonies 35 permanently lose many civil rights unless they receive 36 discretionary executive clemency. 37 (d) The restoration of civil rights through the clemency 38 process is cumbersome, costly, and produces long delays. The 39 clemency process imposes administrative burdens on the state and 40 economic burdens on state taxpayers and should be reserved for 41 extraordinary cases. Streamlining the restoration process for 42 the majority of former felons will advance administrative 43 efficiency, fiscal responsibility, fairness, and democracy. 44 (2) PURPOSE.—The purposes of this act are to strengthen 45 democratic institutions by enabling persons who have completed 46 their felony sentences to become productive members of society 47 and to streamline procedures for restoring civil rights. 48 Section 3. Section 944.294, Florida Statutes, is created to 49 read: 50 944.294 Restoration of civil rights.— 51 (1) A person who has been convicted of a felony, other than 52 a felony set forth in subsection (3), shall have his or her 53 civil rights that are lost as a consequence of a conviction of 54 that felony restored upon completion of his or her sentence. 55 However, this subsection does not apply to restoration of the 56 right to own, possess, or use firearms. 57 (2) For purposes of this section, “completion of sentence” 58 occurs when a person is released from incarceration upon 59 expiration of his or her sentence and has completed all other 60 terms and conditions of the sentence or subsequent supervision 61 or, if the person has not been incarcerated for the felony 62 offense, has completed all terms and conditions of supervision 63 imposed on him or her. 64 (3)(a) A person is ineligible for restoration of civil 65 rights under this section if he or she was convicted of a crime 66 defined by any of the following: 67 1. Section 782.04, relating to murder. 68 2. Section 782.07(3), relating to aggravated manslaughter 69 of a child. 70 3. Section 794.011, relating to sexual battery. 71 4. Section 826.04, relating to incest. 72 5. Section 827.071, relating to sexual performance by a 73 child. 74 6. Section 847.0145, relating to selling or buying minors, 75 otherwise transferring or obtaining custody or control of 76 minors, or offering to do the same. 77 (b) A person is ineligible for restoration of civil rights 78 under this section if he or she was convicted of treason or if 79 his or her impeachment has resulted in conviction, as referred 80 to in s. 8, Art. IV of the State Constitution. 81 (4) This section does not impair the ability of a person 82 convicted of a felony to apply for executive clemency under s. 83 8, Art. IV of the State Constitution. 84 (5) A court shall, before accepting a plea of guilty or 85 nolo contendere to a felony without trial or, if a trial is 86 held, before imposing sentence for a felony, notify the 87 defendant as follows: 88 (a) If the felony is described in subsection (3), that 89 conviction will result in permanent loss of civil rights unless 90 he or she receives executive clemency under s. 8, Art. IV of the 91 State Constitution. 92 (b) If the felony is not described in subsection (3), that 93 conviction will result in loss of civil rights until the 94 defendant completes his or her sentence and that civil rights 95 will be restored thereafter, except for the right to own, 96 possess, or use firearms. 97 (6) The Secretary of State shall develop and implement a 98 program to educate members of the public, attorneys, judges, 99 election officials, and corrections officials, including parole 100 and probation officers, about the requirements of this section, 101 ensuring that: 102 (a) Judges are informed of their obligation to notify 103 criminal defendants of the potential loss and restoration of 104 their civil rights as required by subsection (5). 105 (b) Accurate and complete information about the civil 106 rights of people who have been charged with or convicted of 107 crimes, whether disenfranchising or not, is made available 108 through a single publication to government officials and the 109 public. 110 Section 4. Subsection (1) of section 944.292, Florida 111 Statutes, is amended to read: 112 944.292 Suspension of civil rights.— 113 (1) Upon conviction of a felony as defined in s. 10, Art. X 114 of the State Constitution, the civil rights of the person 115 convicted shall be suspended in Florida until such rights are 116 restored by a full pardon, conditional pardon, or restoration of 117 civil rights granted pursuant to s. 8, Art. IV of the State 118 Constitution or by restoration of civil rights pursuant to s. 119 944.294. 120 Section 5. Paragraph (g) of subsection (2) of section 121 944.705, Florida Statutes, is redesignated as paragraph (h), and 122 a new paragraph (g) is added to that subsection to read: 123 944.705 Release orientation program.— 124 (2) The release orientation program instruction must 125 include, but is not limited to: 126 (g) Restoration of civil rights. 127 Section 6. This act applies retroactively to all persons 128 who are eligible for restoration of civil rights under the terms 129 of the act, regardless of whether such persons were convicted or 130 discharged from sentence before the effective date of this act. 131 Section 7. This act shall take effect on the effective date 132 of SJR 270 or another amendment to the State Constitution which 133 authorizes, or removes impediments to, enactment of this act by 134 the Legislature.