Marsy’s Law in Florida: Protecting Victims of Crimes

In 2008, California passed a law as part of the Victim’s Bill of Rights Act. This law, called Marsy’s Law, aimed to protect victims of crime while expanding their rights under the law. The legislation outlined 17 total rights of victims, including the right to be protected from the defendant, and the right to be notified of any and all court proceedings. Since 2008, similar laws have been passed in Illinois and Ohio, with Hawaii, Montana, Nevada, South Dakota, and Florida all promoting efforts to pass similar laws.

Marsy’s Law is gaining momentum in the state of Florida, and may appear on ballots as early as 2018. Just as those arrested are read their Miranda Rights, Marsy’s Law would provide Floridians with an overview of their rights as a victim of a crime. Under the law, victims would no longer be obligated to provide a deposition to the defense. Florida is one of only a handful of states that require a victim to undergo a deposition. Depositions are often emotionally draining and hostile to victims, and may exacerbate any post-traumatic stress. The passage of this legislation would give a voice to victims throughout Florida. Current legislation is vague and unenforceable, although well-intended.

If you are arrested or charged with a crime, the United States Constitution outlines 20 distinct rights that you are entitled to. The Constitution does not provide victims with any sort of equivalent rights. Victims of the wrongdoings of others have been forced into the criminal justice system by no fault of their own. Marsy’s Law would provide victims with the same amount of rights that defendant’s are entitled to. This legislation seeks, above all, equity between the rights of the victim and the defendant.

Tim Cerio, the Florida Constitution Revision Commissioner, has been a strong proponent of Marsy’s Law for Florida. Some of the rights that would be added to the state constitution for victims are: notification of all court or public proceedings, access to criminal records and other reports, the ability to testify regarding the impact of the crime, notification and access to any plea agreement via the state attorney, notification of sentencing and the place where the defendant will be incarcerated, as well as all post-conviction proceedings. The Marsy’s Law proposal will be heading to the Florida Constitution Revision Commission to be voted on. At least 22 commissioners need to vote yes on the passage of this legislation in order for it to move forward. If it gains their support, the legislation will be placed on the general election ballot in 2018, and Florida citizens will be able to vote on its addition to the state constitution. A supermajority of 60% is required for any constitutional amendment in Florida.

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If you or someone you know has been arrested or charged with a crime, contact a skilled Tampa criminal defense attorney at Pallegar Law, P.A. today. Call 813-444-3912 for your free consultation.

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