Board elections can get contentious at times. We always hope for a fair and equitable election season but sometimes dirt gets dug up on certain candidates. That’s where the question of electing someone with a criminal history comes up. In particular, can a former felon run for the Board?
To answer this question, we look to Florida Statutes § section 718.112(2)(d), which says that “a person who has been convicted of any felony in this state or in a United States District or Territorial Court, or who has been convicted of any offense in another jurisdiction which would be considered a felony if committed in this state, is not eligible for board membership unless such felon’s civil rights have been restored for at least 5 years as of the date such person seeks election to the board.”
Florida is very clear on the matter. The former felon’s rights must have been restored for at least 5 years. One caveat to this law is that ALL civil rights must have been restored. For instance, if a person has most rights restored but still cannot vote or own a gun, then they do not qualify to run for the Board.
Another important consideration in this statute is the language “convicted of any offense in another jurisdiction which would be considered a felony if committed in this state.” This means that if someone committed a misdemeanor in one state but in Florida that offense is considered a felony, they may not be eligible for election. For any candidate with a criminal history, this is something that should be looked into.
Sometimes associations interpret this law to mean that background checks must be run on all candidates. This is definitely not the case. Candidates should all be made aware of the laws and terms that govern the Board election process, but a background check is not a requirement at all.
If you or your association have any questions regarding the restored rights of a candidate it is in your best interest to contact an attorney. We have over 25 years of experience in community law and can answer any of your questions.
Here’s to a fair and painless election!