Constitution of 1885

Delegates convened in June 1885 to revise Florida’s state constitution. The existing constitution had been in effect since 1868, when it was adopted as part of Florida’s reentry into the United States following the Civil War. The 1885 constitution legitimized poll taxes as a prerequisite for voting, which ultimately disproportionately disenfranchised African Americans and many poor whites.

Constitution of 1885


or practices subversive of, or inconsistent with, the peace or moral safety of the State or society.

Section 6. No preference shall be given by law to any church, sect or mode of worship, and no money shall ever be taken from the public treasury directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect or religious denomination, or in aid of any sectarian institution.

Section 7. The writ of habeas corpus shall be grantable speedily and of right, freely and without cost, and shall never be suspended unless, in case of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require its suspension.

Section 8. Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines be imposed, nor cruel or unusual punishment or indefinite imprisonment be allowed, nor shall witnesses be unreasonably detained.

Section 9. All persons shall be bailable by sufficient sureties, except for capital offenses, where the proof is evident or the presumption great.

Section 10. No person shall be tried for a capital crime or other felony, unless on presentment or indictment by grand jury, except as is otherwise provided in this Constitution, and except in cases of impeachment, and in cases in the militia when in active service in time of war, or which the State, with the consent of Congress, may keep, in time of peace.

Section 11. In all criminal prosecutions the accused shall have the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury, in the county where the crime was committed, and shall be heard by himself, or counsel, or both, to demand the nature and cause of the accusation against him, to meet the witnesses against him face to face, and have compulsory process for the attendance of witnesses in his favor, and shall be furnished with a copy of the indictment against him.

Section 12. No person shall be subject to be twice put in jeopardy for the same offense, nor compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken without just compensation.