People accused of crimes in the U.S. are granted basic rights, such as the right to a fair jury trial. However, in recent years, advocates have been promoting laws to protect the rights of crime victims as well.
In Ohio, Marsy’s Law defines certain rights that the victim of a crime has during the process of prosecution and sentencing. But what does this law mean for people who are accused of a crime?
Seasoned criminal defense attorney Max Hiltner answers all your questions about Marsy’s Law below.
What is Marsy’s Law?
Marsy’s Law was first passed in California in 2008. Named for Marsy Nicholas, a college student who was stalked and murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 1983, it was described as a “Victim’s Bill of Rights,” expanding the legal rights of victims and their families in court proceedings.
Since then, several other states have adopted their own versions of Marsy’s Law, including Ohio. In 2017, Ohio voters passed a referendum amending the state constitution to include a Victim’s Bill of Rights.
Article I, Section 10a of the Ohio Constitution, also known as the Ohio Crime Victim Bill of Rights, officially became law in February of 2018. It has been praised by victims’ rights advocates as giving victims more of a voice in the legal process, where before they felt like their experiences weren’t being taken into full account.
However, the law has also been criticized by some, including the ACLU, as impeding on due process, and falsely equating the legal rights of victims and of the accused.
What does Marsy’s Law do?
According to the official text of the constitution, Marsy’s Law defines the following rights for people who have been the victim of a crime:
- The right to be treated with fairness, dignity, and respect
- The right to be informed of all public proceedings regarding the criminal offense
- The right to be heard in any public proceeding involving the accused’s release, plea, sentencing, disposition, or parole
- The right to protection from the accused
- The right to be informed of the accused’s release or escape
- The right to refuse an interview, deposition, or other discovery request made by the accused (with some exceptions)
- The right to restitution
- The right to prompt conclusion of the case
- The right the ability to confer with the prosecution
- The right to be informed, in writing, of all of these rights
What does Marsy’s Law mean for the accused in Ohio?
It’s important to understand that Marsy’s Law does not make the victim a party in a criminal case. The parties, or legal participants in the case, are still only the prosecution and the defense.
However, it can be argued that the special rights granted to victims under Marsy’s Law do have an impact on the rights of the accused.
For example, before Marsy’s Law, the defense always had the right to receive any evidence from the prosecution that might show innocence. However, under some circumstances, Marsy’s Law allows victims to refuse to hand over that evidence.
It’s essential that the accused have an experienced criminal defense attorney on their side to make sure that the prosecution is handing over all relevant evidence and information.
In addition, Marsy’s Law guarantees all victims the right to restitution from the accused. This means that if you are convicted of a crime, you will have to pay the victim the full value of their lost or stolen property as well as reimburse them for any costs they incurred as a result of the crime.
Contact Hiltner Trial Lawyers today
Hiltner Trial Lawyers, Akron’s fiercest legal team, will devote all of our experience, resources, and knowledge to making sure you get the best deal possible. If you are accused of a crime in Ohio, don’t hesitate to contact us to schedule a free consultation and talk about your case.