Monday — October 18, 2021

Marsy's Law

by: Whitney Liera

Marsy Ann Nicholas, was a college student who was stalked and killed by an ex-boyfriend. Only a week after the death of her daughter, Marsy’s mother, Marcella, was in the grocery store when she was confronted by her daughter’s killer. The family had not received any sort of notice that he had been released or was eligible for bail. The family was also not protected from being contacted by him.

As you can probably imagine, being confronted by the man who killed your daughter would be traumatizing and feel very unjust. This is where victim’s rights come into play. For Marsy’s family, who were the victims in this situation, there were no laws in place protecting them from this encounter.

We have all seen crime TV shows where law enforcement is arresting an alleged offender and we hear the police officer reading them their Miranda Rights “You have the right to remain silent…” etc. What we may be less familiar with is the rights of the victim in the situation and something known as Marsy’s Law. In 2008, California votes enacted the California Victims’ Bill of Rights Act, also known as Marsy’s Law, which amended California’s constitution to add in 17 rights to victims of crime. Many other states have made similar changes and have other protections for victims as well.

The family members of Marsy would have been protected from being approached by Marsy’s killer and they would have been given notice that he had been released from custody. For many others who are experiencing intimate partner violence, these protections could be help a victim of violence report the crime to law enforcement. Victims of crime often face traumatization and emotional distress because of what has happened to them. Victim’s rights are important to prevent re-traumatization and to try to regain what may have been lost because of the crime.

While we hope that victims are informed of their rights by law enforcement or other agencies, it is important that the general public is also aware in order to be able to potentially help our loved ones if they are facing these hardships. In the midst of the trauma from being a victim of a crime, it can also be difficult to navigate what a survivor’s rights are. We should be able to have as much awareness of Marsy’s Law as perpetrators do the Miranda Rights.

Below are the 17 rights victims have. Victims of crime are given their rights in printed form by law enforcement, when requested, after a crime has occurred. ALWAYS ASK FOR THEM!

Under Marsy’s Law, the California Constitution article I, § 28, section (b) now provides victims with the following enumerated rights:

  1. To be treated with fairness and respect for his or her privacy and dignity, and to be free from intimidation, harassment, and abuse, throughout the criminal or juvenile justice process.
  2. To be reasonably protected from the defendant and persons acting on behalf of the defendant.
  3. To have the safety of the victim and the victim’s family considered in fixing the amount of bail and release conditions for the defendant.
  4. To prevent the disclosure of confidential information or records to the defendant, the defendant’s attorney, or any other person acting on behalf of the defendant, which could be used to locate or harass the victim or the victim’s family or which disclose confidential communications made in the course of medical or counseling treatment, or which are otherwise privileged or confidential by law.
  5. To refuse an interview, deposition, or discovery request by the defendant, the defendant’s attorney, or any other person acting on behalf of the defendant, and to set reasonable conditions on the conduct of any such interview to which the victim consents.
  6. To reasonable notice of and to reasonably confer with the prosecuting agency, upon request, regarding, the arrest of the defendant if known by the prosecutor, the charges filed, the determination whether to extradite the defendant, and, upon request, to be notified of and informed before any pretrial disposition of the case.
  7. To reasonable notice of all public proceedings, including delinquency proceedings, upon request, at which the defendant and the prosecutor are entitled to be present and of all parole or other post-conviction release proceedings, and to be present at all such proceedings.
  8. To be heard, upon request, at any proceeding, including any delinquency proceeding, involving a post-arrest release decision, plea, sentencing, post-conviction release decision, or any proceeding in which a right of the victim is at issue.
  9. To a speedy trial and a prompt and final conclusion of the case and any related post-judgment proceedings.
  10. To provide information to a probation department official conducting a pre-sentence investigation concerning the impact of the offense on the victim and the victim’s family and any sentencing recommendations before the sentencing of the defendant.
  11. To receive, upon request, the pre-sentence report when available to the defendant, except for those portions made confidential by law.
  12. To be informed, upon request, of the conviction, sentence, place and time of incarceration, or other disposition of the defendant, the scheduled release date of the defendant, and the release of or the escape by the defendant from custody.
  13. To restitution.
    1. It is the unequivocal intention of the People of the State of California that all persons who suffer losses as a result of criminal activity shall have the right to seek and secure restitution from the persons convicted of the crimes causing the losses they suffer.

  1. Restitution shall be ordered from the convicted wrongdoer in every case, regardless of the sentence or disposition imposed, in which a crime victim suffers a loss.

  1. All monetary payments, monies, and property collected from any person who has been ordered to make restitution shall be first applied to pay the amounts ordered as restitution to the victim.

14. To the prompt return of property when no longer needed as evidence.

15. To be informed of all parole procedures, to participate in the parole process, to provide information to the parole authority to be considered before the parole of the offender, and to be notified, upon request, of the parole or other release of the offender.

16. To have the safety of the victim, the victim’s family, and the general public considered before any parole or other post-judgment release decision is made.

17. To be informed of the rights enumerated in paragraphs (1) through (16).

Sources of information: