So I’ve been convicted of a crime. Can I still vote in Arizona in 2020?

Restoring the voting rights of people convicted of felonies is big news. Last year, Florida passed a ballot initiative that will permit up to 1.4 million people to vote again. Last month, the Arizona Legislature passed new rules that address felon voting rights. With the 2020 elections right around the corner, many Arizona residents want to know – will I be able to cast a vote in this all important election? We break down the basic rules for you here.

In Arizona, any person convicted of a felony crime automatically loses the right to vote. Unfortunately, nothing can be done to prevent this.

However, if this was the person’s first felony conviction, he or she automatically regains the right to vote when s/he either completes probation or receives a final discharge from the Department of Corrections. Also, the person must have paid any outstanding victim restitution. Fortunately, the person no longer needs to pay remaining court fines before his or her right to vote is restored. Please note: once voting rights are restored, it does not necessarily mean that the person is actually registered. So be sure to register to vote again!

It is more difficult to recover voting rights for a person with a prior felony on his or her record or if the person has been unable to fully pay restitution. Instead of automatic restoration, the person must apply to the court in which s/he were convicted. Although the application is free, the judge is not required to grant it. Also, if the person was incarcerated for his most recent felony conviction, s/he must wait 2 years before applying. And the person must submit a certificate of absolute discharge from the Arizona Department of Corrections. You can find more information about the certificate of discharge.

This is only a summary of Arizona’s very new felony voter rules as they apply to Arizona State court convictions. For more information and assistance with restoring your voting rights, please consult with an attorney.

A search warrant is the gold standard and basic prerequisite for conducting a legitimate search of a person or her home. One exception to the rule – the “search incident to arrest” – permits the police to search the person of a suspect who has been arrested. But a recent Federal Court of Appeals case holds that the police may search even before a person is arrested. How is this possible?

The Fourth Amendment protects our privacy from unwarranted police intrusion and surveillance. In most cases, it requires the police to obtain a search warrant from the court, which ensures that an independent magistrate reviews the evidence and determines that the search is justified.

One exception to the warrant requirement is called “search incident to arrest.” When the police arrest a suspect, they may search her person for weapons and evidence without a warrant. The justification for this exception is the safety of the officers, who must immediately transport the suspect to a police station for booking. Also, a suspect facing charges is more likely to conceal or destroy evidence.

But in a recent Ninth Circuit decision, the Court affirmed that the police may conduct the warrantless search even before arrest, provided it occurs not long before. Although this follows from existing precedent, we agree with the Judge who urged the Ninth Circuit to reconsider its earlier decision. The danger to the officer rises at the time of arrest, not before. Also, a suspect is more likely to dispose of evidence when arrested, not at some earlier time. Even worse, authorizing a search before arrest creates perverse incentives. For example, at a traffic stop, an officer could search the person of a driver knowing that, if anything incriminating turned up, the officer could then arrest the driver for a traffic infraction. The law should not encourage such indiscriminate invasions of the public’s privacy.

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About Michael Harwin

Michael’s skill and experience have been recognized repeatedly. He holds an A-V 5/5 preeminent rating by Martindale Hubbell. He has been named one of the top lawyers in Arizona by Southwest Superlawyers, and one of the best lawyers in Tucson by Tucson Lifestyle Magazine. He also has been named one of the best lawyers in the United States by BestofUS.com , and given the highest rating possible by AVVO, 10/10 Superb.
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