Marsy’s Law will be on the ballot in a couple of weeks and you should know more about it before you sign on the dotted line.
All versions of Marsy’s Law on the ballot this year would make it a state constitutional right for people directly harmed by a crime to request and receive notification when the alleged perpetrator is released from jail or prison, for instance.
The initiatives also list — among other rights — victims’ right to be told about and to attend public proceedings involving the criminal; to be heard in any public proceeding involving sentencing, release or a plea; and in the case of the Nevada and Oklahoma proposals, to refuse interviews or other requests made by the accused person unless ordered to do so by a subpoena or court order.
The Florida, Kentucky and Oklahoma initiatives all say that victims’ rights shall be protected “in a manner no less vigorous” than rights given to the accused.
Click here for more information about Marcy’s Law
Kentucky voters will decide in November whether victims of crimes should get more rights in the legal process. The yes or no question could change the state constitution.
It’s called Marsy’s Law, named after a California murder victim whose family was confronted by the accused killer with no idea the man was released from jail.
The constitutional amendment would guarantee victim’s and their families more legal standing during the legal process and keep them in the loop with changes in the case.
Owensboro defense attorney Evan Taylor believes Marsy’s law has the power to change the Kentucky court system.
“I think there’s been a perception that the victims and their families have not had a loud enough voice,” Taylor said. “The underlying idea behind it is clearly reasonable and it’s hard to argue against that.”
Kentucky is one of six states to put this referendum on the ballot in November.
State Senator Dorsey Ridley (D – District 4) says it is common sense to give victims’ rights, just like those accused. State lawmakers overwhelmingly decided to support putting this up to vote.
“There are rights for those who are accused, and correctly so, but there aren’t any rights for the families of the victims,” Ridley said.
Taylor says it’s paramount to find a balance between defendant and victim rights. He believes it’s easier said than done.
“Where the victim’s rights and the family’s rights get invoked in this process is going to be one the courts ultimately have to sort out,” Taylor said.
There is another hold-up. The Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers say the wording of the ballot question is misleading.
The ballot question reads: “Are you in favor of providing constitutional rights to victims of crime, including the right to be treated fairly, with dignity and respect, and the right to be informed and to have a voice in the judicial process?”