(MIAMI) — A Florida man had his election fraud charges dismissed on Friday, making him the first of 20 people who Gov. Ron DeSantis announced had been charged with voter fraud in August, to beat his case.
The ruling by a Miami judge may now pave the way for similar motions and rulings in the other 19 election fraud cases, which garnered national attention and controversy when they were announced on Aug. 18. DeSantis said at the time that they were the “opening salvo” by Florida’s newly funded Office of Election Crimes and Security to crack down on voter fraud.
Robert Lee Wood, who faced one count of making a false affirmation on a voter application, and one count of voting as an unqualified elector, had his charges dismissed on the grounds that the prosecutor lacked jurisdiction to bring them.
Wood was facing up to five years in prison and $5,000 in fines and fees, for allegedly illegally voting in the 2020 election.
When the charges were announced on Aug 18, DeSantis said local prosecutors had been “loath” to take up election fraud cases.
“Well, now we have the ability with the attorney general and statewide prosecutor to bring those on behalf of the State of Florida,” he added at the press conference.
But a judge found on Friday that the statewide prosecutor did not have jurisdiction over one case in Miami.
In order for the statewide prosecutor to have jurisdiction, the crimes alleged must have occurred in at least two judicial circuits.
The judge found with the defense, which argued that the act of applying to vote and voting only occurred in Miami Dade. All 20 cases are being prosecuted by the statewide prosecutor.
In order for the Attorney General’s office to have jurisdiction, the crimes that they allege must have occurred 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 later transmitted to the Department of State in Tallahassee.
The defense argued the alleged offenses only happened in Miami Dade.
The judge found with the defense.
Larry Davis, the attorney for Wood, said that his motion to dismiss on grounds of jurisdiction has been circulated to attorneys representing the other election fraud defendants.
The statewide prosecutor can now appeal the case. If unsuccessful, a similar case could be brought by the Democrat Miami Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez.
Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.