BUSINESS LAW 101 / Subversive Activities

By Albert L. Kelley, Esq.

Political pundits on both sides of the table throw out the word “treason” pretty often.  However, in almost every case, they are using the word incorrectly. “Treason” is a legal term.  It has a very specific definition, and one that rarely occurs.  In the Florida Statutes, Treason is defined as declaring war on the United States or the State of Florida, or giving aid and comfort to the enemies of the State.  The federal law has a similar definition. There are a lot of actions that can be raised against the State to overthrow it, but are short of a declaration of war.  While the pundits might call this treason (a first-degree felony), it really falls under the category of subversive activities.  

A subversive activity is when a person or organization tries to “commit, attempt to commit, or aid in the commission of any act intended to overthrow, destroy, to assist the overthrow or destruction of the constitutional form of the Government of the United States, or of the state, or any political subdivision of either of them, by revolution, force, violence, or other unlawful means”.  It is also a subversive act to “destroy any books, records, or files, or secrete any funds in this state of a subversive organization or a foreign subversive organization, knowing said organization to be such”.  Subversion is a second-degree felony.  In fact, just being a member of an organization that commits subversive activities is a subversive activity- even if the person does not actively participate in themself. Merely being a member of an organization that commits subversive activities id a third-degree felony. 

A person convicted of subversive activities not only loses the right to vote; they are forever barred from filing for, or holding any elected or appointed office in the State of Florida, or even being employed in a government position- including any position with any city or county government. If they file for an elected position, the supervisor of election shall not qualify them to run.  If an organization is deemed to be a subversive organization, the organization shall be dissolved by the state and all their assets are  forfeited to the state. 

It is possible for a person to interfere with the state’s activities, but less than treasonous or subversive levels.  When two or more people try to overturn the government, or interfere forcibly in the administration of the government or any department thereof, it is deemed usurping the government and is a second degree felony.

It is possible to declare (levy) war on persons in the state, but not on the state itself.  This does not qualify as treason, since it is not against the government, however, it is still illegal.  Declaring war on individuals is a third-degree felony.

If a person attempts to encourage another to act against the state, whether in writing or by speech, or by actions, it is called inciting an insurrection or sedition and is deemed a second-degree felony.

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