Florida Marsy’s Law

For the 2018 elections, the Florida Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) voted to place Amendment 6 to Florida’s Marsy’s Law, which is composed of three constitutional amendment proposals. The amendment included three proposals: the rights of crime victims, the age at which judges are required to retire, and judicial deference. After the election, Florida voters decided to pass the amendment with 61.61% of the vote.

Florida’s Marsy’s Law includes victims, victim advocates, law enforcement, state legislators and other policymakers, legal experts, and members of local communities all across Florida. Amendment 6 aims to ensure victims and their families have true equality under the law by guaranteeing them a day in court.

Understanding Marsy’s Law

After Marsy Nicholas’ ex-boyfriend murdered her, Marsy’s family encountered him at a grocery store after he was released on bail. However, Marsy’s family was unaware of his release, which started the fight for a law that protected victims’ rights. This movement eventually became known as the California Victims’ Bill of Rights Act of 2008, commonly known as Marsy’s Law. The act protects and expands the legal rights of victims of crime under the state constitution.

Thanks to Marsy’s Law, when any victim of crime is contacted by law enforcement, just as the accused are read their Miranda Rights, that victim is immediately informed of their Marsy’s Rights and provided with “Marsy’s Card”, a small foldout containing a full description of each of the 17 Marsy’s Rights.

Marsy’s Law Across the U.S.

Today, 12 states follow Marsy’s Law measures, including Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, with most of them passing the law in the latest 2018 elections.

However, over 23 states including South Carolina, Texas, and Colorado don’t have Marsy’s proposal, but they do have victim rights amendments on their state’s constitution. 13 states don’t have Marsy’s Law at all, including Idaho, Arizona, and New York.

What Changes to State Law Did Amendment 6 Make?

Although Amendment 6 also included the age at which judges are required to retire and judicial deference, Marsy’s Law changes were related to the crime victims, their families, and their lawful representatives.

Under the new changes, all of the above parties have rights to:

  • be treated with fairness and respect.
  • be free from intimidation, harassment, and abuse.
  • be protected, within reason, from the accused and persons acting on behalf of the accused.
  • have the victim’s welfare considered when setting bail.
  • prevent the disclosure of information that could be used to locate or harass the victim or which could disclose confidential or privileged information of the victim.
  • the prompt return of the victim’s property when no longer needed as evidence in the case.
  • timely restitution from each convicted offender for all losses suffered.
  • proceedings free from unreasonable delay.
  • be informed of the constitutional rights afforded to the victim.

In addition, the measures also offered crime victims further rights upon request, including a right to:

  • be informed of the constitutional rights afforded to the victim.
  • reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of any release or escape of the defendant.
  • be heard in public proceedings involving pretrial, other release from legal constraints or parole.
  • provide information regarding the impact of the offender’s conduct on the victim to (a) the individual responsible for conducting the pre-sentence investigation and (b) the court.
  • receive the pre-sentence report and other reports relevant to the exercise of a victim’s right.
  • be informed of all post conviction processes and procedures and to participate in such processes and procedures.
  • provide information to the release authority to be considered before a release decision is made and be notified of release decisions.
  • be informed of clemency and expungement procedures and to provide information to authorities in these procedures.

The Debate Over Florida’s Marsy’s Law

Before the amendment passed in the 2018 elections, there were valid arguments on both sides defending the pros and cons of moving Marsy’s Law.

Marsy’s Law Pros and Cons

Even after the election, some groups are still opposing the amendment, considering it too confusing to enforce.

Those in favor

On the one hand, those who voted for Marsy’s Law Amendment 6 argued that many people in Florida didn’t realize crime victims don’t have enforceable rights within the state constitution. By passing this amendment, the state could provide the victims with similar rights and protections that are afforded to the accused and convicted.

Those against

On the other hand, those opposing Marsy’s Law Amendment 6 argued that victims’ rights are already protected under the Constitution, and passing this amendment would eliminate existing provisions. They also claimed that under the previous Florida Constitution victims already had the right to be informed on what’s happening with the case, as well as other similar rights included in the amendment.

What Happens If I’m a Crime Victim?

If you or someone you know has been a victim of a crime, under Florida’s Marsy’s Law Amendment 6 you have constitutional rights that need to be respected. At LJ Law Group, we’ll do everything in our power to make sure your rights as a victim are honored and respected. Contact us today or fill out our online form for a private consultation.