How Can Drug/Criminal Charges Affect Voting Rights in Arizona

Blischak Law September 7, 2023 Personal injury

Voting is a fundamental right, allowing Arizonans to have a say in their government. Across the country, individuals convicted of a crime have been barred from taking part in this process even after completing the terms of their sentence. Slowly, changes are taking place that allow people who have served their time and met the obligations required by law to regain their voting rights.

If you are convicted of drug/criminal charges in Arizona, you may be concerned about your right to vote in state and federal elections. The laws can be challenging to understand, and it is best never to assume that your registration is valid. Prepare ahead to participate in the next election cycle.

The Type of Conviction Matters

Both state and federal laws apply to drug/criminal charges. The type of charge and conviction will determine if and when you can vote. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor drug charge in Arizona, you retain your right to vote.

To ensure your voting privileges are intact, check your voter registration status and register if it is inactive. Persons incarcerated in Arizona on misdemeanor convictions can vote by absentee ballot.

Felony drug/criminal convictions in Arizona will alter the right to vote. Understanding when those rights can be regained and how to restore them is vital. Working with an experienced felony defense lawyer in Phoenix can be essential in having felony convictions reduced and restoring your voting rights.

Restoring the Right to Vote

Each felony conviction is handled differently in Arizona when it comes to voting. So, what are the factors to consider when voting after a felony conviction?

First Felony Conviction

If an individual has a single drug/criminal conviction, the right to vote is restored automatically in Arizona once the sentencing requirements have been met and a final discharge has been received. These requirements can include:

  • Jail time
  • Victim restitution
  • Probation

After meeting the requirements, reapplying for voting rights is unnecessary.

Two or More Felony Convictions

Multiple felony convictions take away the right to vote. When two or more convictions occur, an individual is required to petition the courts to have their voting rights returned, and the decision to restore those rights is solely in the hands of a judge. A judge will likely consider prior felony records and the individual’s successful restitution.

A wait time of two years is required before an individual can apply if prison time was part of sentencing. Additionally, a certificate of absolute discharge must be submitted and can be obtained from the Arizona Department of Corrections. If the sentence only includes probation, the petition can be submitted once the probation period has been completed.

Additional Voting Considerations in Arizona

Laws restoring a voter’s registration rights can vary depending on whether the conviction was at a state or federal level (p.29). Voting rights are retained during pretrial detention. Registering to vote can take up to four to six weeks, and it is always a sound practice to begin early to restore your right to vote, which can take longer.

Supportive Phoenix Criminal Defense Attorneys

The individual right to vote is crucial but can be taken away when a person is convicted of a felony. Understanding the far-reaching effects of a drug/criminal conviction is essential, and working with a team willing to create a personalized defense to produce the best outcome is imperative. Blischak Law Firm offers a free consultation to help you begin to take control of your future and regain your life and voting rights after a drug/criminal conviction.