One year ago today, Floridians overwhelmingly voted in favor of Amendment 6, more commonly known as Marsy’s Law for Florida, and enshrined in the state constitution a specific set of clear, enforceable rights and protections for crime victims. Marsy’s Law for Florida replaced antiquated victims’ rights language that had been placed in the state constitution 30 years earlier.
Since the enaction of new law, Marsy’s Law for Florida has worked to ensure victims are being notified of their rights and that those rights are being enforced. The group has taken legal action in support of two Florida victims who have invoked Marsy’s Law for Florida in their cases. In July, Marsy’s Law for Florida filed an amicus brief with the 10th Judicial Circuit in support of Polk County victim Misty Hicks’ claim that she has standing in court. In August, Marsy’s Law for Florida filed a petition for a Writ of Prohibition with the First District Court of Appeal on behalf of a Washington County child who was denied the right to counsel.
“I’ve been a victim of domestic violence for several years by a man who I came to learn is a serial abuser of many woman and children. The abuser withheld his prior criminal background to receive a lighter sentence and avoid adjudication. Thanks to Marsy’s Law for Florida, the state has since modified the sentence to the charges and has adjudicated my abuser. I am so grateful Marsy’s Law for Florida has given me and other victims a voice. If I did not have the rights and protections of Marsy’s Law, my abuser would have succeeded in avoiding conviction, making it easier for the cycle of violence to continue. Thank you to the individuals who have fought hard to pass this law to allow victims the opportunity to participate in a meaningful way,” said Hicks.
Additionally, Marsy’s Law for Florida has been reviewing materials provided by state attorneys’ offices and sheriffs’ offices to ensure victims are being notified of their rights and provided with information on those rights. Through this information gathering process, Marsy’s Law for Florida is identifying best practices for notifying victims of their rights. The group recently commended both the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office and Walton County Sheriff’s Office for their crime victims’ rights notification materials.
“We have come a long way from the days when crime victims were on uneven footing within the criminal justice system,” said Jennifer Fennell, spokesperson for Marsy’s Law for Florida. “As we celebrate a one-year milestone, we remain focused on the future and on ensuring victims of crime know their voices and their rights matter.”
Some of these basic, commonsense rights to which Florida crime victims are now entitled 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
Following the passage of Marsy’s Law for Florida last November, Floridians are now among the 123 million Americans protected by Marsy’s Law. Versions of Marsy’s Law have been successfully passed and implemented in nine other states.
For more information on Marsy’s Law for Florida, visit 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.