Marsy’s Law was passed overwhelmingly in November of 2018. This law was passed as a constitutional amendment through direct voting of Florida citizens. The purpose of this law is to give rights to victims of crimes. Specifically the intent of Marsy’s Law in Florida is to “giv[e] victims constitutional standing equal to that of the accused and convicted.” A victim is classified as someone who suffers physical, psychological, or financial harm due to a completed or attempted crime. The harm can be either direct or threatened.
History of Marsy’s Law in Florida
Marsy’s Law in Florida is the namesake of Marsalee Nicholas, a student of the University of California Santa Barbara. She was tragically stalked and murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. Marsy’s family was confronted in a grocery store by the accused a week after the murder, unaware he had been released and without any right to demand information regarding the case.
After this experience, the Marsy’s Law initiative began and was sponsored by Marsy’s Brother, Dr. Henry Nicholas III. Some of the rights it aimed to protect include: victims being treated with dignity and respect during criminal justice proceedings, victims being notified of their rights as a victim of crime, and victims being notified of specific public proceedings throughout the criminal justice process and to be present and heard during those proceedings. It passed in California in November 2008 and became the strongest and most comprehensive Constitutional victims’ rights laws in the United States. Since then, Dr. Nicholas has supported equal crime victims’ rights efforts across the United States, including Florida.
Rights Under Marsy’s Law
Alleged Victims of crimes in Florida are guaranteed the following rights beginning at the time of victimization:
- Information regarding these rights
- Ability to seek an attorney
- Legal authority to seek enforcement of these rights
- Due process
- Fairness, respect, and dignity during proceedings
- The right to be reasonably protected from the accused and anyone acting on their behalf
- During setting of bail, the safety and welfare of the victim and the victim’s family must be a consideration.
- Right to privacy
- Notice of, the ability to be present at, and the right to be heard at “all public proceedings involving the criminal conduct, including, but not limited to, trial, plea, sentencing, or adjudication, even if the victim will be a witness at the proceeding.”
- Notice of any release or escape
- Discussion with the prosecutor regarding any disposition
- The right to influence and receive a copy of any presentence report
- Information regarding any disposition
- Notice of any appeal or other postconviction procedure
- Return of property no longer needed as evidence
- Full restitution for loss
- Proceedings free of unreasonable delay
Frequent Questions about Marsy’s Law in Florida
Does a victim need to hire a Marsy’s Law Attorney?
The rights afforded by Marsy’s Law in Florida are guaranteed by the Florida Constitution to any victim. In this same way, defendants are afforded rights under the U.S. and Florida Constitutions whether represented or not. Unfortunately, it is often difficult to ensure that the state is honoring victim’s rights. Victims, just like the accused, may find it beneficial to consult with an attorney to ensure their rights are not being violated. If you are the victim of a crime, Call (850) 681-7777 or send an online message today for an open and free consultation with our legal team.
Does Marsy’s law take away any rights from the Defendant?
The short answer to this is no. Marsy’s Law in Florida assures rights for victims and does not take any away from the defendant. However, there may be some cases where this negatively impacts the accused. For example, Marsy’s Law allows the prosecutor to demand a speedy trial for the victim. Normally this is a right only afforded to the defendant. This right is still intact for the defendant, but it may be harder to be granted a continuance as a defendant now.
How can a victim make sure they are taking advantage of their rights under Marsy’s Law?
First and foremost, a victim can speak to the prosecutor assigned to the case. Part of their obligation is to inform the victim of these rights and safeguard them. Unfortunately, prosecutors are often assigned hundreds of cases and it is difficult to ensure that all victims’ rights are being accounted for and all information is being given to victims. A Marsy’s Law Attorney can assert and ensure enforcement of these rights from the very beginning. This can include—but is not limited to—direct representation at bond arguments for the accused (initial and modification), protection order hearings (initial and modification), direct plea offer input with the prosecutor, sentencing argument on behalf of the victim, and restitution hearing argument. Oftentimes, victims find it very hard to face the perpetrator and navigate the criminal justice system. That’s where a Marsy’s Law Attorney can be a huge help. Defendants have the constitutional right to have their attorney cross-examine the accuser if the case goes to trial, but at all other stages, a qualified attorney can represent you and take on the burden’s associated with taking advantage of the rights afforded to victims under Marsy’s Law in Florida. If you require representation, or have a question about your rights, Call (850) 681-7777 or send an online message today for an open and free consultation with our legal team.
Where can I learn more about Marsy’s Law?
Marsy’s Law for Florida is a grassroots organization that was instrumental in the passing of Marsy’s Law in Florida. The organization has a website dedicated to informing the public on the specifics of Marsy’s Law which has a FAQ for further information.
The rights of accused and victims in the State of Florida can also be viewed for free as part of the Florida Constitution. Marsy’s Law in Florida can be found in Article I, Section 16.
Another great resource is consulting with an attorney that is well versed in Marsy’s Law and the Florida criminal justice system.
Marsy’s Law Attorney in Florida
Don Pumphrey and the firm have years of experience representing victims and defendants in criminal cases in Florida. They are dedicated to defending the rights of clients, and they will fight to preserve your rights under Marsy’s Law in Florida. Call (850) 681-7777 or send an online message today to discuss your rights during an open and free consultation with our legal team.
 Fla. Const. Amend. Art. I.