Marsy’s Law and the Impacts on Victims
On November 7, 2017, Ohio voters passed Marsy’s Law. According to Marsyslaw.us, Ohio became the sixth state to pass Marsy’s Law and in doing so Ohio joined California, Illinois, Montana, and North & South Dakota.
Last fall, Marsy’s Law had overwhelming support throughout the Buckeye State. Marsyslaw.us reported that Marsy’s Law had sweeping support on both sides of the political aisle including endorsements from 375 elected officials which included Governor John Kasich, Attorney General Mike DeWine, State Auditor Dave Yost, sixteen (16) county prosecutors, nearly two dozen county sheriffs, and state lawmakers. Not only was Marsy’s Law widely endorsed by many of Ohio’s elected officials, it was also highly favorable among Ohio voters. In fact, Marsy’s Law for Ohio passed with the “highest percentage vote in the last twenty-five (25) years in Ohio for a state issue and the second-highest of all-time in the Buckeye State!” With so much popularity, one might be asking “Who was Marsy?” and “What impacts will the new law have on me?”
Marsy’s Law was named after Marsalee (Marsy) Nicholas, a University of California Santa Barbara student, who was killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. A week after Marsy was murdered, Marsy’s mother, walked into a grocery store after visiting her daughter’s grave and was confronted by the accused murderer. The family had no idea that the murderer had been released on bail. Not only was this traumatic for the family, it was also very discouraging for them.
Marsy’s family was not informed that Marsy’s murderer had been released on bail because the judicial system had no obligation to do so. Passage of Marsy’s Law would prevent similar situations occurring to other victims’ families. Dr. Nicholas, the brother of Marsy, explains why passage of Marsy’s Law is beneficial, “If any good can come of something this horrible – the loss of my sister and the losses of other families of crime victims – it is that these violent acts served as a catalyst for change.”
That change occurred in Ohio last fall with overwhelming support of Marsy’s Law. With the passage of Marsy’s Law, Ohio’s Constitution will undergo an amendment to include new rights for victims and their families. Marsy’s Law effectively repeals and replaces the existing language in Section 10a of Article I of the Constitution of the State of Ohio. The following list is a summary of the new rights for victims and their families:
a. To receive timely notification of all court proceedings;
b. To be present and heard at all court proceedings;
c. To have a prompt conclusion of the case;
d. To refuse an interview or other requests made by the accused in certain cases;
e. To receive notice when the accused is released or escape;
f. To receive monetary payment from the convicted for harm caused, such as compensation (note- the proposed amendment would not establish a cause of action for damages against the State or any political subdivision); and,
g. To receive information about services available to crime victims.
Individuals may file a Motion in Court to enforce said rights should these new rights be violated. As of February 5, 2018, the Amendment, a.k.a Marsy’s Law, became effective in Ohio.
Marsy’s Law is not without its critics. However, the amendment to the Ohio Constitution will allow for a more compassionate justice system for crime victims. When proceeding through criminal litigation, Courts now must consider the wellbeing and safety of the victims and their families. If you or a loved one becomes a victim of a crime and need additional assistance in guaranteeing that your Ohio constitutional rights are protected under Marsy’s Law, please contact the litigation advocates at the White Law Office, Co.
Attorney At Law