Ohio voters in November 2017 overwhelmingly approved the adoption of Marsy’s Law. The legislation added a crime victim’s amendment to the Ohio State Constitution, which gave Ohio crime victims specific constitutional rights in the criminal justice process.
Many of the crime victims’ rights guaranteed by Marsy’s Law already existed in the Ohio Revised Code or Ohio’s Rules of Evidence. Adding specific language to the Ohio State Constitution, however, makes sure that everyone involved in the law enforcement system—police, prosecutors, court clerks, and judge—know what rights crime victims have. Moreover, the law explicitly makes available remedies to crime victims if their constitutional rights are violated.
Marsy’s Law went into effect Feb. 5, 2018. Marsy’s Law expands crime victims’ rights to more closely match those of the accused.
What Marsy’s Law Says
The model legislation is named after Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas, who was stalked and murdered by her boyfriend in 1983. Just a week after the murder, Henry Nicholas and Marcella Leach—Marsy’s brother and mother—ran into the accused while he was out on bail. Marsy’s family had not been notified that the boyfriend was released on bail.
As adopted in Ohio, Marsy’s Law add Article I, Section 10a to the Ohio State Constitution. Marsy’s Law grants the following constitutional rights to Ohio crime victims. The new amendment states:
To secure for victims justice and due process throughout the criminal and juvenile justice systems, a victim shall have the following rights, which shall be protected in a manner no less vigorous than the rights afforded to the accused:
(1) to be treated with fairness and respect for the victim’s safety, dignity and privacy;
(2) upon request, to reasonable and timely notice of all public proceedings involving the criminal offense or delinquent act against the victim, and to be present at all such proceedings;
(3) to be heard in any public proceeding involving release, plea, sentencing, disposition, or parole, or in any public proceeding in which a right of the victim is implicated;
(4) to reasonable protection from the accused or any person acting on behalf of the accused;
(5) upon request, to reasonable notice of any release or escape of the accused;
(6) except as authorized by section 10 of Article I of [the Ohio Constitution], to refuse an interview, deposition, or other discovery request made by the accused or any person acting on behalf of the accused;
(7) to full and timely restitution from the person who committed the criminal offense or delinquent act against the victim;
(8) to proceedings free from unreasonable delay and a prompt conclusion of the case;
(9) upon request, to confer with the attorney for the government; and
(10) to be informed, in writing, of all rights enumerated in this section.
Six states have adopted versions of this crime victims’ rights bill, and several more are set to consider adopting Marsy’s Law in 2018 and 2019.
Who is a “Victim?”
Marsy’s Law changed the definition of “victim,” as set forth in Section 2930 of the Ohio Revised Code, to mean the person against whom the criminal act is committed or the person directly and proximately harmed by the criminal offense. Prior to this modification, a “victim” was generally considered as the person named as a victim in a police report or people injured in traffic accidents. Thus, under this modification, adult parents of child victims are now considered “victims” even if they are not specifically named in a police report.
With this modification, more individuals are therefore entitled to the victims’ rights protections set forth in Marsy’s Law.
What Marsy’s Law Does Not Do
Marsy’s Law does not:
- Allow victims to act as prosecutors;
- Give victims the right to appeal acquittals;
- Allow victims to sue criminal justice officials (law enforcement, prosecutors, courts, etc.) for rights violations;
- Let either a prosecutor or an Ohio victim’s right lawyer unduly delay legal proceedings; or
- Give victims the ability to control a criminal case.
The Columbus, Ohio-based criminal defense lawyers with Tyack Law have experience on both sides in criminal cases. Whether you have been named as a defendant or need an attorney who can fight for all of your rights as a victim of crime, we may be able to help. Call us at (614) 221-1342 to request a consultation or request an appointment by filling out this online contact form.