If Vote Were Held Today, a Victims’ Bill of
Rights Would Pass With 85 Percent Approval
A new poll released today shows an overwhelming number of Floridians support enumerating victims’ rights in the Florida Constitution, the basis of a proposal known as Marsy’s Law. The survey, commissioned by Marsy’s Law for Florida, found 87 percent of likely voters believe victims should have, at the very least, the same protections in the state constitution as those given to those accused of committing crimes. Support for the measure crosses party lines with 83 percent of Democrats, 86 percent of Independents and 92 percent of Republicans in favor of including victims’ rights in the state constitution.
When asked if crime victims should have the constitutional right to speak at the bail or sentencing hearing of the accused or convicted, support rises to 89 percent. Seventy-seven (77) percent believe that victims of crimes should have the constitutional right to be consulted by the state attorney before plea bargain negotiations can begin. When asked if we should change the current system so victims of crime have their rights protected in the state constitution versus the opposing view that victims’ rights are already protected by local state attorneys, Florida voters favor changing the system by a 70 percent to 20 percent margin.
Finally, when read proposed ballot language and informed of the background behind Marsy’s Law, 85 percent of those surveyed said they would vote for a constitutional amendment that guarantees victims’ rights in the Florida Constitution. A constitutional amendment shows strong support, regardless of political affiliation, with 83 percent of Democrats, 87 percent of Independents and 88 percent of Republicans saying they would vote for the measure.
In the coming weeks, the Florida Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) will consider Proposal 5, filed by Commissioner Chris Nocco, creating the Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights. If approved by the CRC, it will appear on the 2018 General Election ballot.
“The Victims’ Bill of Rights empowers victims within the state of Florida,” said Commissioner Nocco. “We had no doubt that citizens would be very supportive of this proposal to give these once voiceless victims the ability to be heard.”
“This poll shows Floridians are of the same mindset as voters in other states who have shown support for Marsy’s Law,” said Marsy’s Law for Florida State Director Greg Ungru. “The Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights is a true bipartisan effort that brings together law enforcement, civic leaders, elected officials and citizens from every walk of life. I believe, if approved by the CRC and placed on the ballot, victims’ will finally have their constitutional rights established in Florida.”
Conducted by OnMessage, Inc., the survey interviewed 700 likely voters in Florida from October 1 to October 3. The survey has a +/- 3.7 percent margin of error.
Background on Marsy’s Law for Florida
While most states provide crime victims with clear and enforceable constitutional-level protections, Florida remains one of only 15 that does not. Once adopted by the voters, Marsy’s Law will grant constitutional rights to crime victims on par with those provided to the accused and convicted, including:
Marsy’s Law Rights
Marsy’s Law will guarantee that victims receive certain rights in a number of important ways including:
- informing victims and their families about their rights and the services available to them,
- giving them the right to receive notification of proceedings and major developments in a criminal case,
- protecting their safety by notifying them in a timely manner regarding changes to the offender’s custodial status,
- allowing victims and their families to exercise their right to be present – and heard – at court proceedings,
- providing input to the prosecutor before a plea agreement is finalized; and
- establishing the right to restitution from the convicted.
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.
Since California’s passage of the Victims’ Bill of Rights Act of 2008, Marsy’s Law legislation has also succeeded in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Illinois.