Most people are familiar with Miranda Rights — the rights police read to those placed under arrest. And, most people are aware that there are federal and state laws designed to protect the accused and those convicted so criminals receive fair treatment. What most people don't know is there are no U.S. Constitutional protections for victims.
Florida doesn't have much in its laws to protect victims, either. That's just not right. For justice to be truly served, it must be equal. Defendants are absolutely entitled to all their rights and protections. But, victims should have as many rights and protections as the accused and convicted too.
In November, we can correct this imbalance in the criminal justice system by voting in favor of Amendment 6, also known as Marsy's Law for Florida.
Marsy's Law doesn't take anything away from defendants. It simply gives basic, common-sense rights to victims and their families and protects those rights in the Florida Constitution. These rights include the right to have standing in court; the right to protect records that could be used to locate and harass the victim and their family; the right to be present at all proceedings involving the case; the right to be heard at court proceedings; the right to receive timely notice of the outcome of the case; and, the right to restitution.
By putting these victim's rights in the state Constitution, there will be no question on what victims of crime are entitled to. Thirty-two states already have Marsy's law in their state constitutions.
Law enforcement leaders and state attorneys across Florida agree: We need Marsy's Law for Florida. I stand with nearly two-thirds of Florida's sheriffs in support of Amendment 6.
In my more than 40 years of working in public safety, I have had the honor of serving and protecting my community. I was driven to this profession by a desire to keep people safe and help them when they have been harmed. As law enforcement officers, we are often the first on the scene of a crime and the first people victims encounter. We do all we can to help and support them during this critical time in their life, but once the case is in the courts, they have very few legal rights to protect them.
I know this first hand. Many years ago I was shot on duty and became a "victim" of a serious crime. I had to go through depositions and a trial where it seemed like the defendant had more rights than I did as the victim.
I hope you will join me in November and vote "yes" on Amendment 6 and let's protect victims' rights together!
For more information, visit www.marsyslawforfl.com.
Rick Staly is the sheriff of Flagler County.
Read more in the Palm Coast Observer here.
Marsy’s Law for Florida today released a new statewide ad in support of equal rights for crime victims. It is part of a substantial statewide broadcast, cable and digital advertising campaign encouraging Floridians to vote in favor of Amendment 6, which would place clear, enforceable rights for crime victims in the state constitution.
“Our newest ad focuses on the rights the accused and convicted have versus the rights provided to the victim. We are all familiar with the Miranda Rights read to someone when they are arrested. Most Floridians are shocked to find out crime victims in our state aren’t automatically provided similar rights and protections,” said Greg Ungru, Marsy’s Law for Florida State Director. “A vote for Amendment 6/Marsy’s Law for Florida would correct this injustice and would ensure all crime victims in Florida have the same rights and protections as the accused and convicted – nothing more and nothing less.”
There are 20 distinct rights afforded to the accused and convicted, which are enumerated in the U.S. Constitution. The Florida Constitution also provides rights and protections for the accused and convicted. While the U.S. Constitution is silent on victims’ rights, the Florida Constitution currently includes a single sentence related to victims’ rights: “Victims of crime or their lawful representatives, including the next of kin of homicide victims, are entitled to the right to be informed, to be present, and to be heard when relevant, at all crucial stages of criminal proceedings, to the extent that these rights do not interfere with constitutional rights of the accused.”
That 30-year-old language is vague and can be open to interpretation. Additionally, these minimal rights are not being applied and enforced consistently. Placing a new set of specific crime victims’ rights in the state’s most powerful legal document will ensure victims are uniformly and routinely provided these rights and protections across the state.
If passed by 60 percent of the voters in November, Amendment 6/Marsy’s Law for Florida would provide crime victims with the following rights:
- To be treated with dignity, respect, courtesy, sensitivity and fairness.
- To have standing in court.
- To privacy.
- To have information or records protected that could be used to locate or harass the victim or which could disclose confidential or privileged information about the victim.
- To proceedings free from unreasonable delay.
- To timely disposition of the case free from unreasonable delay.
- To be present at all proceedings involving the case.
- To reasonable protection from the accused throughout the justice process.
- To reasonable and timely notice of proceedings.
- To confer with the attorney for the government.
- To be informed by and provide input to the attorney for the government about any case disposition agreement including a plea agreement, deferred prosecution agreement or diversion agreement before a decision is made concerning such agreement.
- To be heard in any proceeding during which a right of the victim is implicated including release, plea, sentencing, disposition, parole, revocation, expungement or pardon.
- To have the authority with jurisdiction over the case provided with information pertaining to the economic, physical and psychological effect of the crime or juvenile act upon the victim and have the information considered by the authority with jurisdiction.
- To timely notice of any release, escape or death of the accused, if the accused is in custody or on supervision at the time of death.
- To full restitution and to be provided with assistance collecting restitution.
- To have any monies or property collected from any person who has been ordered to make restitution be first applied to the restitution owed to the victim before paying any amounts owed to the government.
- To compensation as provided by the law.
- To timely information about the outcome of the case.
- To timely notice about all rights in this section, or as provided by law, including the enforcement of these rights.
For more information on Amendment 6/Marsy’s Law for Florida, visit www.marsyslawforfl.com.
Fox 4 Naples/Fort Myers recently interviewed Linda Beni, whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, about her support for Marsy's Law/Amendment 6. Click here to watch the story.
Appealing to voters from the perspective of a survivor of child sexual abuse, a new “Yes on Amendment 6” ad featuring Lauren Book is now running across Florida. The new ad is part of a major statewide broadcast, cable and digital advertising campaign asking voters to support Amendment 6, which would place clear, enforceable rights for crime victims in the state constitution. The campaign has been launched by Marsy’s Law for Florida, a group that has been advocating for rights for crime victims that are equal to those already provided to the accused and convicted.
Book, a state senator, is also the founder and CEO of Lauren’s Kids, a Florida-based nonprofit foundation that educates adults and children about sexual abuse prevention through in-school curriculum, awareness campaigns, speaking engagements and legislative advocacy.
“I am proud to support victims’ rights and that’s why I support Amendment 6/Marsy’s Law for Florida. As a survivor of sexual abuse, I know how difficult and painful the court process can be,” said Book. “Victims of crime want the opportunity to be present and for their voices to be heard, without revictimization. They want their rights to be the same as the person who harmed them. Most of all, victims of crime want to be treated with dignity and respect. We must pass Amendment 6/Marsy’s Law for Florida to provide protection for generations to come.”
If passed by voters by a margin of 60 percent or greater in November, Amendment 6 will place a new, specific set of distinct rights for crime victims in the Florida Constitution. Some of these basic, commonsense rights include:
- The right to have standing in court
- The right to present at all proceedings involving the case
- The right to reasonable and timely notice of proceedings
- The right to be heard in any proceeding during which a right of the victim is implicated including release, plea, sentencing, disposition, parole, revocation, expungement or pardon
- The right to timely notice of any release, escape or death of the accused, if the accused is in custody or on supervision at the time of death
- The right to proceedings free from unreasonable delay
- The right to timely information about the outcome of the case
Together with Book and Lauren’s Kids, the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence, Justice Coalition, Peyton Tuthill Foundation, MADD, Victim Services Center of Central Florida, Indian River Victims’ Rights Coalition, Parents of Murdered Children – Tri-County Chapter, Safe Haven of Northeast Florida, Stop Our Children's Pain, ChildHelp CEO & Chairman Sara O’Meara, Florida Smart Justice Alliance, Florida Police Chiefs Association, Florida Sheriffs Association and more than 50 individual Florida sheriffs have endorsed Amendment 6/Marsy’s Law for Florida.
Also standing in support for Amendment 6/Marsy’s Law are Governor Rick Scott, former Governor Jeb Bush, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran, former Congressman and gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis, State Senate Majority Leader Wilton Simpson, former State Attorney Willie Meggs, former State Attorney Rod Smith, State Attorney Dave Aronberg, State Attorney Ed Brodsky, State Attorney Jack Campbell, State Attorney William Eddins, State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, State Attorney Brad King, State Attorney R.J. Larizza, State Attorney Melissa Nelson, State Attorney Dennis Ward and State Attorney Andrew Warren.
For more information on Amendment 6/Marsy’s Law for Florida, visit www.marsyslawforfl.com.
About Marsy’s Law
Marsy’s Law is named after Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas of California who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. Only one week after her death, Marsy’s mother and brother, Henry T. Nicholas, walked into a grocery store where they were confronted by the accused murderer. The family, who had just come from a visit to Marsy’s grave, was unaware that the accused had been released on bail. In an effort to honor his sister, Dr. Nicholas, co-founder of Broadcom Corporation, has made it his mission to give victims and their families constitutional protections and equal rights. He formed Marsy’s Law for All in 2009, providing expertise and resources to victims’ rights organizations nationwide.
Statement by Greg Ungru, Marsy’s Law for Florida State Director:
We appreciate the Florida Supreme Court’s expeditious review of the previous ruling on Amendment 6 and are incredibly pleased their opinion affirms the amendment’s current ballot language is fair and accurate. Their decision to uphold Amendment 6 on the General Election ballot justly provides Florida voters with the opportunity to decide if they believe our state constitution should provide victims of crime with rights and protections equal to those already afforded the accused and convicted.