Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: “If I have an outstanding warrant, what should I do?”
What started as an ordinary traffic stop turned into a felony charge for one North Carolina man. Keith Sellars was driving home from dinner when he was pulled over by a cop for running a red light. While the cop was running Sellars’s license and conducting a background check, it became evident that there was a warrant out for Sellars’s arrest, according to the New York Times.
What was his crime? Voting. Sellars was charged with illegal voting in the 2016 presidential election. In many states, North Carolina included, there is a law that prohibits those individuals who are on probation or parole for a felony conviction to vote. This illegal voting felony charge can result in up to two years in prison should there be a conviction. Sellars is not the only person being charged with this crime for illegal voting in the 2016 presidential election. He is just one of a dozen people facing these same charges.
In an effort to reduce voter fraud, some states have been cracking down on prosecuting those individuals who are found to have committed voter fraud. An investigation into the 2016 presidential election votes in North Carolina resulted in a finding that there were 441 people previously convicted of a felony who voted in the 2016 election. While most prosecutors and counties did not pursue these cases or charge the individuals, Sellars county prosecutor decided to charge the 12 people in the county who illegally voted.
Sellars contends that he did not know that he was ineligible to vote. He went to cast his vote, was allowed to fill out the paperwork, and was handed a ballot, which he filled out. All 12 of the individuals being charged state that they would not have voted had they known that they were ineligible to vote. Some of those charged also state that at no time were they informed that by either being convicted of a felony, or pleading guilty to a felony charge, that they were losing the right to participate in the voting process.
The right to vote is not permanently taken away from North Carolina’s previously convicted felons. Individuals have their right to vote restored after they complete the terms of their sentence, whether that be jail time, probation, or parole. There have been attempts to pass bills that would require there be intent to illegally vote for a person to be charged, but none have been successful thus far. Intent is not required to bring criminal charges.
Whether the charge be illegally voting or driving while impaired, the criminal defense attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are here to defend you. We know how difficult and devastating a conviction can be to a person’s life. We pride ourselves on providing the best defense possible under the circumstances. Our dedicated and knowledgeable attorneys are here for you to defend a wide array of criminal charges. Contact us today to find out how we can help you give the best defense possible. If you find yourself facing criminal charges and need the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney in or around Charlotte, Lake Norman, or our new office in Monroe (by appointment only until 2019), please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (704) 370-2828 or find additional resources here.
The criminal defense attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC make it their mission to zealously defend their clients on a wide range of criminal matters at both the state and federal levels. These matters may include any charge from traffic offenses; DWI/DUI; drug charges (from simple possession to possession with intent to distribute and trafficking); gun permit denials; weapons offenses; and property crimes (larceny, breaking and entering, robbery, fraud, embezzlement, white collar offenses); to sexually related offenses (indecent exposure; sexual assault, crimes against nature, removal from sex offender registry); and violent crimes (domestic violence; assault; manslaughter; homicide, murder). Other legal issues that Arnold & Smith, PLLC criminal clients may be facing include restraining orders, restraining order and probation violations, expungements; appeals; and immigration issues related to criminal charges. Our criminal defense attorneys are passionate about ensuring that individuals empower themselves by being informed about their constitutional rights, and stand at the ready to fight in the defense of those facing criminal charges.
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