A Florida man had his voter fraud charges dismissed on Friday, making him the first of 20 people who Governor Ron DeSantis said were charged with voter fraud in August to beat his case.
A Miami judge’s ruling could now pave the way for similar motions and rulings in the other 19 voter fraud cases, which attracted national attention and controversy when they were announced Aug. 18. salvo” by Florida’s new Bureau of Election Crimes and Security to crack down on voter fraud.
Robert Lee Wood, who was facing one count of making a false statement on a voter application and one count of voting as an unqualified voter, had his charges dismissed on the grounds that the prosecutor n had no jurisdiction to bring them.
Wood was facing up to five years in prison and $5,000 in fines and costs, for allegedly voting illegally in the 2020 election.
When the charges were announced Aug. 18, DeSantis said local prosecutors had been “reluctant” to take up voter fraud cases.
“Well, now we have the opportunity with the Attorney General and the State Attorney to bring them on behalf of the State of Florida,” he added at the press conference.
But a judge ruled Friday that the state’s attorney lacked jurisdiction over a case in Miami.
For the state prosecutor to have jurisdiction, the alleged crimes must have been committed in at least two judicial circuits.
The judge accepted the defense’s argument that the alleged violations, applying to voting and voting while ineligible, only occurred in Miami-Dade County. Thus, the state prosecutor was declared incompetent.
Prosecutors across the state argued that the alleged crimes were committed in Leon County in addition to Miami-Dade County, as the defendants’ applications and votes were then forwarded to the State Department in Tallahassee. .
The defense argued that the alleged offenses only occurred at Miami-Dade.
The judge found the defense, citing Shakespeare in his order granting the motion to dismiss.
“His arms stretched wider than the wings of a dragon,” the judge wrote in his order, referring to the state’s attorney.
“How much wider than that does [the statewide prosecutor] looking to expand its reach? »
“It’s an old truth that all politics is local,” the judge added. “[The statewide prosecutor] seeks to overthrow this old truth”
Larry Davis, Wood’s attorney, said his motion to dismiss on jurisdictional grounds has been forwarded to attorneys representing the other defendants of election fraud.
The state attorney can now appeal the case. If that fails, Democratic Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle will also have the option of filing a complaint.
Just days before the Florida primary in August, DeSantis told a news conference that 20 people who voted in 2020 had been charged with voter fraud. They had all been convicted of murder or criminal sex offenses, DeSantis added, which under Florida law disenfranchised them.
“Yet they went ahead and voted anyway. It’s against the law, and now they’re going to pay the price,” the governor said.
The arrests were investigated by Florida’s new Bureau of Election Crimes and Security, which DeSantis signed into law earlier this year.
The decision in the Wood case is the first decision of 18 cases that have been announced by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, following DeSantis’ announcement.