Marsy’s Law for Florida is clarifying the intention of new constitutional language providing crime victims’ rights following a news story this week in Ft. Myers. According to WINK News, the Ft. Myers Police Department is declining to release details on a home invasion and is citing Marsy’s Law for Florida as the reason they are withholding this information. Marsy’s Law for Florida states that victims have the right to prevent the public disclosure of any information that could be used to locate or harass them, such as their names. There are no provisions in Marsy’s Law for Florida that prevent the release of details of a case, including general information on where crimes have taken place.
Additionally, according to WINK News, the Ft. Myers Police Department did not release information about the crime until five days after it had taken place. There are also no provisions in Marsy’s Law for Florida that delay the timely release of information about a crime.
“While we appreciate the Ft. Myers Police Department’s efforts to honor crime victims’ rights, withholding details of a case and delaying release of information about a crime is not the intention of Marsy’s Law for Florida. This is an overly extreme interpretation of the law,” said Paul Hawkes, former judge and counsel for Marsy’s Law for Florida. “While crime victims’ rights should never be compromised, and the ability for victims to prevent the release of information that could be used to locate or harass them is critical, law enforcement agencies should continue to provide information that is in the best interest of public safety.”
Amendment 6, known as Marsy’s Law for Florida, was passed by Florida voters on November 6, 2018, and was officially enacted on January 8, 2019. It enshrined in the state constitution a specific set of clear, enforceable rights for crime victims. Marsy’s Law for Florida replaced the single, ambiguous sentence related to crime victims’ rights that was placed in the state constitution 30 years prior.
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.