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Senate Bill 494 –Compensation of Victims of Wrongful Incarceration

Senate Bill Will Reduce Clean Hands

When a person is wrongfully accused of a crime, it can have absolutely devastating effects on their lives. Not only must you spend time in prison and are subject to fines, but you are forced to navigate society with the stigma “criminal.”

Being convicted of a felony offense makes it difficult for you to obtain employment, many professional licenses, or pursuing post-secondary education. Now, imagine being wrongfully convicted of a crime, and being subject to such drastic effects on your life.

When the State of Florida mistakenly convicts a person, considering the long-term drastic effects, it seems only right that the State would have measures in place to correct such a mistake right. Florida compensates wrongfully convicted individuals, but only under certain circumstances.

In 2008, the Florida Legislature enacted the Victims of Wrongful Incarceration Act. The purpose of this Bill was to compensate, monetarily, individuals who were wrongfully convicted by the Florida government.

The Act currently compensates a wrongfully convicted individual $50,000 per year for every year he or she served in prison for the wrongful conviction, up to $2 million. The catch, however, is that the wrongfully convicted individual must have “clean hands” in order to be compensated.

The “clean hands” provision makes an individual who has a previous criminal history that includes a felony ineligible to be compensated for any wrongful convictions.

Attorney for Wrongful Convictions in Broward County, Florida

If you or someone you know has been wrongfully incarcerated by the Florida government and has served time, then he or she may be able to be compensated for that time. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who can explain Senate Bill 494 and how the clean hand’s provision may affect you.

Evan Hoffman of The Hoffman Firm is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Fort Lauderdale who represents clients accused of felony and misdemeanor crimes throughout Broward County, including Coral Springs, Hollywood, Pompano Beach, Miramar, and other surrounding areas in the Fort Lauderdale metropolitan area.

Call (954) 524-4474 for more information about the Florida Senate Bill 494 – Compensation Victims of Wrongful Incarceration.

What Will Senate Bill 494 Accomplish?

The Bill will amend the Clean Hands provision of the 2008 Florida Victims of Wrongful Incarceration Act by narrowing the list of felony offenses that disqualify an individual from compensation from all felonies to only violent felonies. While this will make more individuals eligible for compensation, it is important to note that of the states that have enacted similar bills, Florida is the only state with a clean hands provision.

Since the 2008 Wrongful Incarceration Act was passed, only four (4) wrongfully convicted individuals have been compensated for being wrongfully convicted. The Bill will also remove, as a disqualifier, any offense that a person pleads guilty or no contest to before he or she was wrongfully convicted and incarcerated.

If passed, CS/SB 494 will take effect this year, on October 1, 2017.

The Florida Clean Hands Provision

Under Fla. Stat. § 961.04, through Senate Bill 494, an individual will be ineligible to receive compensation for wrongful incarceration if any of the following apply:

  • during the person’s wrongful incarceration, the person was also serving a concurrent sentence for another felony for which that he or she was not wrongfully convicted of;
  • during the person’s wrongful incarceration, the person pleads guilty or nolo contendere to any felony offense; or
  • before the individual’s wrongful incarceration, the person was convicted of, or plead guilty or nolo contendere to, regardless of adjudication, any felony offense.

Additionally, Senate Bill 494 would narrow the list of felony offenses that would disqualify a person from being compensated for wrongful incarceration.

A felony would disqualify a victim of wrongful incarceration if any of the following apply:

  • during parole or community supervision on the sentence that led to the wrongful incarceration, the person committed a violent felony that resulted in the revocation of the parole or community supervision; or
  • during the person’s wrongful incarceration, he or she was convicted of, or pled nolo contendere to, regardless of adjudication, any violent felony.

Additional Resources

Senate Bill 494 Analysis Appropriations Post-Meeting 4/25/2017 – Visit the official website of the Florida Senate for more information on the current status of CS/SB 494, which includes the most current position of the bill in the legislative history, any amendments, and any old bill analyses.

Call (305) 928-1669 for more information on Senate Bill 494 and wrongful incarceration.

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