Marsy’s Law is a constitutional amendment that was passed with 62 percent of Florida voters in November of 2018 voting for this law. Modeled after a similar measure in California, Marsy’s Law broadens the rights of crime victims and ingrains them into the state constitution. These rights include:
Considering a victim’s safety when authorities set bail for the accused
Preserving the confidentiality of the victim or the victim’s family, including any information that could be used to locate or harass the victim or their family
A right to due process
A right to be notified about all stages of the criminal process regarding the defendant, including trials, please, sentencing, release, escape, and parole
A right to be heard at each stage of the defendant’s sentencing
A right to the prompt return of the victim’s property when no longer needed as evidence in the case;
A right to full and timely restitution from each convicted offender for all losses suffered;
A right to proceedings free from unreasonable delay; and
A right to be informed of the constitutional rights afforded to the victim.
Who is a “Victim”
Under Marsy’s Law, a victim is any person who “suffers direct or threatened physical, psychological, or financial harm as a result of the commission or attempted commission of a crime or delinquent act or against whom the crime or delinquent act is committed.”
What Effect Does Marsy’s Law Have on the Current Criminal Justice System?
Advocates for Marsy’s law contend that the amendment places victims on the same playing field as a defendant. Additionally, the amendment has propelled investigative agencies to take a more proactive approach in concealing the identity of victims and sometimes even their potential assailants. Other than this, it is unknown as to the potential effects of this amendment. Because it is such a new law and has yet to be fully implemented, there are many kinks that will need to be worked out by the legislature. This is why in recent months individuals have been calling on the Florida legislature to refine the law through an implementing bill. If they decide to do so, the legislature will be able to explain the reach and limits of the law and what exactly its role is to be during a trial.
Until then, the most we know is that most agencies are attempting to implement these victim’s rights in the best way they know how. Whether that means increasing the confidentiality of victims and assailants or allowing these victims the opportunity to speak at each sentencing hearing, the State of Florida is taking the lead on victim’s rights and it will be interesting to see where this lead takes the criminal justice system as a whole.
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