Florida man becomes first to escape charges resulting from DeSantis’ election fraud raid

A Miami judge tossed out the case after determining the state prosecutor did not have jurisdiction

Graig Graziosi
Friday 21 October 2022 16:36 BST
Related video: Police footage from DeSantis voter fraud arrests reveals confusion and anger
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A court dropped on Florida man’s election fraud charges, making him the first to escape the grasp of Governor Ron DeSantis’s recent ballot integrity raid.

In August, Mr DeSantis announced election fraud charges against 20 Floridians.

A Miami judge dismissed the charges, setting a precedent that may pave the way for others targeted by Mr DeSantis to beat their charges. The remaining 19 election fraud cases were part of Mr DeSantis’ "opening salvo" of enforcement by the state’s new Office of Election Crimes and Security, according to ABC News.

Many of the voters rounded up by the Republican governor’s election police were unaware that they were ineligible to vote, with some saying they had been cleared by Florida election officials. Under Florida law, individuals who exit prison have their voting rights restored, but only after they have fully left the carceral system — including probation and parole. However, that law only came into effect in 2018, and some residents are still unsure or are misinformed about their current eligibility.

The governor noted during a press conference announcing the charges that local law governments refused to work with him on his plan, so he executed the charges through the state’s attorney general.

“Well, now we have the ability with the attorney general and statewide prosecutor to bring those on behalf of the State of Florida,” he said.

Mr DeSantis’ election raid made headlines when troubling police body camera footage emerged showing Florida law enforcement officers blindsiding residents with voter fraud charges.

In the footage, the officers attempt to explain to the bewildered Floridians why they are being stopped. One man appears devastated when he learns he’ll have to pay $1,000 in fines because he chose to vote.

One of those individuals, Robert Lee Wood, was facing up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine for allegedly voting in the 2020 election. He faced one count of making a false affirmation on a voter application, and one count of voting as an unqualified elector.

A Miami judge ruled that Mr DeSantis’ state-wide prosecutor did not have jurisdiction over Mr Wood’s case, and dismissed the charges. In order for a statewide prosecutor to have jurisdiction, Mr Wood’s alleged offenses would have to have occurred in two judicial circuits, the judge said. The alleged crimes all took place in Miami Dade.

Larry Davis, Mr Wood’s defense attorney, told ABC News that the judge’s decision to dismiss based on jurisdiction has been sent to all of the defense attorneys representing the remaining 19 defendants targeted by Mr DeSantis.

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