Amendment 6: Marsy’s Law for Florida Analysis
In November 2018, Florida passed Amendment 6 also known as Marsy’s Law for Florida to grant the crime victims the rights same as those given to the individuals convicted or accused of a crime. The law provides victims of crime, their families, lawful representatives and survivors with specific constitutional rights including the right for fair and respectful treatment; right to be free from abuse, harassment, and intimidation; right to consider the victim’s welfare when granting the bill and right to fair proceeding from unbiased reviews (JMI Policy Team, 2018). Amendment six also requires law enforcement personnel and courts to update victims as well as their families on the proceedings during the prosecution.
Marsy’s Law for Florida originates from California State through Henry Nicholas’, Broadcom Corp founder, campaign (Florida Association of Counties, 2019). Nicholas started advocating for this type of legislation to provide crime victims with more privileges and rights as a result of the attack perpetrated by his sister’s ex-boyfriend. The law finds its name in Henry Nicholas’ sister, Marsy, who was killed by her ex-lover in 1983. Henry and his mother would later be attacked by the murderer after he was released on bail. Following the attack, Nicholas started to advocate for the law that would grant the crime victims more privileges than it was provided in the then California constitution. In 2008, Nicholas was the primary sponsor of California’s Marsy’s Law, and in 2009 he formed Marsy’s Law for All, a national organization. Marsy’s Law for All influence was behind the laws passed in North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Nevada, Idaho, Hawaii, Georgia, and other states. In November 2018, Florida States voted for Marsy’s Law by over 61 percent resulting to Amendment 6 in Florida’s Constitution.
Analysis of the Law
The passing of Marsy’s Law for Florida increased the number of victims’ rights to eleven (Florida Association of Counties, 2019). However, the law brings in a debate whether it will be effective in assisting the victims in securing their safety and privacy. Many Florida citizens and more so the opponents of the law like the American Civil Liberties view the law as useless since the victims’ rights are already covered on the state’s statute. As much as the dissenters’ side might sound real, the fact is that these rights were not being enforced. With the Marsy’s Law, the victims whom their rights will be violated will have the legal heft to seek justice. Before Amendment 6 legislation, the victims’ rights were violated by not only the culprits but also by the justice system. The law also put into consideration the welfare and dignity of the victims. For example, if Marsy’s identity would have been concealed, or whether she had known her daughter’s ex-boyfriend had been released, the attack would not have known her family.Despite the castigation of the Marsy’s Law for Florida, the legislation has worked as it was intended by protecting the victims’ rights and addressing the public interests. For example, since its enactment, Florida’s law enforcement agencies have been shaping their policies including restricting the disclosure of sensitive information about the victims to make sure their interest and rights are considered. The implementation of Amendment six secures the victim’s right to “preventing the disclosure of information that could be used to locate or harass them.” As such the sensitive information like victims’ names, records or addresses are not disclosed in the public crime reports. The restriction to disclose the victims’ name had been applicable in Florida before but only applied for the victims of sexual assaults. With the Marsy’s Law, the restriction extends to other crimes. Marsy’s Law has protected the very sensitive information that could lead to the hurting of the crime victim. Disclosing the address, location or name of the victim not only infringe the privacy rights of the victim, but might result in retaliation, and this is what is forbidden by the Marsy’s Law.
For years, Florida had sacrificed the concerns, interests and the rights of the victims in its justice system. As a result, the victims found the system unreliable. In voting for the Marsy’s Law, the public exhibited their desire to have the victims’ privacy protected and their interests considered. As much as freedom of the press may be paramount and particularly in reporting the crime, it is not meant to interfere with the privacy of the victims. Unlike before, the media is required to report crimes into consideration with the victims’ privacy rights, concerns, and interests. By doing so, the police, prosecutors, courts and the wide media society do not only conform to the Marsy’s Law requirements but also ensure the safety of the victims is considered. The police and the media do not need to feed the public with everything about the crime victim. The crime victims are often traumatized, and to proceed with the irreversible disclosure of the privacy is mock to an already injured victim. The voting for the Marsy’s Law was a noble idea, and the public as well the crime victims in Florida are starting to see the benefits of the legislation.Apart from the disclosure of the crime victims’ names, addresses, records, and any other crucial information, Amendment 6 has been instrumental in involving the victims in public proceedings. A significant number of law enforcement agencies in Florida have revised the requirements to notify the victims about the proceedings including the release of the defendant from the custody. The availability of the victims during the proceedings gives them a chance to offer their views to the court. The new law is very fundamental in ensuring that the victims’ views are incorporated in the judgment determining the terms of release of the suspect.
Marsy’s Law for Florida Suggestions for Improvement
Inarguably, Marsy’s Law for Florida is good, and it has been effective in addressing the concerns of the crime victims. However, to a certain degree, it is problematic, and it may hinder justice for the victim. For example, the public may have vital information that could be used to prosecute the suspect, but when the disclosure of the victim’s name and the scene of the crime are restricted the public may never provide evidence they have to the police. To address law enforcement issue raised above, and to ensure that victim receives justice, the criminal justice system should be allowed to use it discretion power to assess the circumstances surrounding the crime to determine whether the name or the scene of the offense should be disclosed to the public. For example, if law enforcement agencies have enough evidence that can be used to sentence the suspect, then the law should apply. However, in the situation where the criminal justice lacks crucial information to sentence the suspect, and it is suspected that the public may have lead-information that could be used to secure the evidence, then the name of the victim and location of crime should be disclosed. By doing so, the criminal justice system will be acting for the interest of the victims.
Amendment 6 requires all the criminal justice system to notify the victims, their families, lawful representatives and the corporations about the court proceedings (Cassell & Garvin, 2017). The provision is good since it increases the credibility of the criminal justice system in the eyes of the public, but its resources are consuming and tiresome. As a result, the law enforcement agencies may be overworked, demoralized and given the discretionary power of the prosecutorial officers to decide which case to file for charging, they may never file charges for misdemeanor offenses since they will view them as resource consuming yet they may have little impact on the victim. Therefore, it is essential for the Marsy’s Law for Florida to limit the notification of the court proceedings to the victims only. The new law also brings a challenge on how the prosecutors and police should deal with the cases of the battery. The law provides that the prosecution must provide the identity of the victim and the venue where the act occurred. Now with non-disclosure of the victim’s crucial information including their names and place of the crime, this puts the prosecutors into the crossroad, and the victims of the battery may end up not receiving justice at all. As such, it is crucial to provide a provision whereby for particular cases or circumstances, the police and prosecutors will be at discretion to ignore the applicability of Marsy’s Law for Florida.No doubt that Amendment 6 plays an essential role in addressing the interests of the public and more so the crime victims. The law grants them a chance to voice their opinions during the court proceedings as well as being notified on the release of the suspect. The restriction on disclosing the private information about the victims protects them from the harassment or attack once the suspect is released. However, as much as the Marsy’s Law for Florida might be beneficial to the victims, it creates loopholes that might interfere with their justice. For example, the law locks out the contribution of the public who may have crucial evidence about the suspect. Besides, specific cases like battery require the prosecution to disclose the identity of the victim as well as the location of the crime. Failure to do so may prevent the victim from getting justice. Therefore, the legislation should consider the two areas above and amend them accordingly for the benefit of the crime victims.