October 3, 2019

Marsy’s Law

What is Marsy’s Law?

Marsy’s Law is an effort to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to include statutory and common law rights currently afforded to crime victims in Pennsylvania, including the right to:
– Receive information about their rights and available services
– Receive notification of proceedings and major developments in the criminal case
– Receive timely notifications/changes to the offender’s custodial status
– Be present at court proceedings
– Provide input to the prosecutor before a plea agreement is finalized
– Be heard at plea, sentencing proceedings or any process that may result in the offender’s release
– Restitution

Marsy’s Law has qualified to be on the November 5, 2019 ballot as a voter referendum.

Why is Marsy’s Law Needed?

Currently, Pennsylvania is one of only a handful of states that does not provide constitutional protections for crime victims.

Although the Pennsylvania Crime Victims Bill of Rights is good policy, it is not sufficient.
Victims do not have standing if statutory rights are violated. Marsy’s Law would correct this imbalance by allowing victims to assert their rights.

What do Pennsylvania Voters Think?

Marsy’s Law is overwhelmingly supported by Pennsylvania voters across party lines*:
87% of Pennsylvania voters support Marsy’s Law
92% of Democratic voters in Pennsylvania said that they would vote YES for Marsy’s Law if the election were held today
79% of Democratic voters are MORE LIKELY to vote for a candidate that supports Marsy’s Law

Who Supports Marsy’s Law in Pennsylvania?

The Pennsylvania General Assembly passed Marsy’s Law with overwhelming majorities in two consecutive legislative sessions (2017-18 and 2019-20) with strong support from both the House and Senate Democratic Caucuses.

Support is broad and bipartisan support, with hundreds of individuals and groups endorsing the measure. Supporters include:
– Governor Tom Wolf
– Attorney General Josh Shapiro
– Auditor General Eugene DePasquale
– Office of the Victim Advocate
– Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence
– Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape
– Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association
– Pennsylvania State Troopers Association
– Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association
– Philadelphia City Council (Unanimously in 2018 & 2019)

Marsy’s Law & Defendant Rights

Marsy’s Law DOES NOT diminish the rights of the accused and convicted. Victim’s rights will not trump defendants’ constitutional rights. Marsy’s Law simply gives victims a voice in the criminal justice process, not a veto.

EXAMPLES:

Marsy’s Law DOES NOT infringe upon “innocent until proven guilty.” Victim status attaches when law enforcement determines probable cause that a crime has been committed. Even if a perpetrator is never identified or convicted, victims deserve fairness, respect and dignity.

Under the U.S. Constitution, ONLY the defendant has the right to a speedy trial. Marsy’s Law DOES NOT change that. Under Marsy’s Law, a victim has a right to request that there is no unreasonable delay, but the court makes the decision as to how a matter should progress.

Marsy’s Law DOES NOT interfere with a defendant’s pretrial discovery process. In Pennsylvania, victims are not required to participate in pretrial criminal depositions and already may refuse an interview request made by anyone, not just the accused. Marsy’s Law gives these provisions constitutional protection.

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