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 falsely asserting 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 on August 18. DeSantis said local prosecutors have been “reluctant” to take up voter fraud cases.
“Well, now we have the ability 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 concluded with the defense, which argued that the act of asking to vote and voting only took place in Miami Dade. All 20 cases are being prosecuted by the state attorney.
For the Attorney General’s office to have jurisdiction, the crimes they allege must have been committed in at least two judicial circuits.
State prosecutors argued that the crimes were committed in Leon County in addition to Miami Dade County because the defendants’ applications and votes were then forwarded to the Tallahassee State Department.
The defense argued that the alleged offenses only occurred at Miami Dade.
The judge found with the defense.
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, a similar case could be brought by Democratic Miami Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez.