The United States Constitution and state statutes are replete with protections for the rights of persons accused of crimes. In the U.S. Constitution alone, there are roughly 20 different rights and protections that are guaranteed an accused person in a criminal trial. Yet until recently, there have been little to no provision for the rights of victims in state and federal law. That has changed in Florida upon the passing of the Marsy’s Law amendment to the Florida State Constitution.
The Florida crime victims’ laws, otherwise called Marsy’s Law, aims to fill an important void in the criminal laws of the state. Marsy’s Law protects the rights of victims of crime and creates valuable protections for them before, during and after a criminal prosecution.
The law recognizes that when a crime is committed, victims are the ones that suffer the most, yet they are the ones most often ignored. Now, every victim of a crime in Florida can enjoy important legal rights and remedies that protect them during the criminal process and give them a way to move on from their terrible experience.
At the Law Office of Michael D. Barber, we are staunch representatives of the rights of crime victims. After suffering through the already terrible experience of being victimized, you should not have to suffer the injustice of a criminal system that does not protect your interests.
If you were victimized by the criminal actions of another person, you can trust Attorney Michael D. Barber to look out for you and protect your interests. Schedule a free initial consultation with our Florida crime victims attorney today by calling 407-890-8000 for help.
What is Marsy’s Law?
Marsy’s Law is named after Marsy Nicholas, a girl who was stalked and brutally murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. The movement towards creating the law began with a heart wrenching incident. Just a week after Marsy’s death, her brother and mother, after visiting her grave, decided to go grocery shopping. Upon entering the store, they were shocked to meet Marsy’s murderer. Her ex-boyfriend had apparently been released on bail, without their knowledge and input.
The pain and disappointment of the experience sparked a movement that put a spotlight on the rights of crime victims and their families. Before the movement, victims were not regarded as active stakeholders in the criminal justice process. There was little to no consideration for their feelings, the painful experiences they had suffered, or even significant opportunities to let them have a say in the process.
The movement was centered around a fight to enact constitutional amendments at the state level that would include rights for victims. This movement has seen a lot of success. Many states have enacted constitutional amendments that protect the rights of victims. These states include California, Illinois, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Ohio, and Florida.
Under these new laws, a victim of a crime enjoys specific rights that let them participate actively in the criminal trial of their abuser. The rights are contained in the Florida Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights which is now a part of the Florida Constitution.
Rights of Crime Victims in Florida
There are numerous rights guaranteed to victims of crimes under Marsy’s Law. One of the most important is the right to be informed about the existence of these protections. Crime victims must be informed that they have the right to seek the advice of an attorney regarding these rights and the information on these rights must be publicly available. Some of the other rights protected under Marsy’s Law include:
- The right to due process, including a requirement that every crime victim be treated with fairness and respect for their dignity
- The right to freedom from intimidation, abuse and harassment, whether from the defendant, or any other person
- The right to reasonable protection from the defendant and any of their agents.
- The right to have their safety and welfare considered when setting bail. This may include setting pretrial release conditions that specifically protect the victim’s welfare and safety, and that of their family
- The right to prevent disclosure of information or facts that can be used to trace, locate, or harass the victim or their family. The right also protects them against disclosure of any confidential or privileged information about the victim
- The right to proper and timely notice about all hearings and trials. This also includes timely notice of release or any changes to the conditions of release, and the right to present information regarding the impact of the defendant’s conduct on their life.
- The right to prompt return of the victim’s property when law enforcement no longer requires it as evidence in the case
- The right to full and timely restitution, which should cover all losses suffered by the victim, both directly and indirectly, from the defendant’s conduct
The broad nature of these rights means that a victim can finally have meaningful participation in the criminal processes of the defendant.
Each of these rights are enforceable in a court of law. If you would like to know more about the protections given to crime victims under this law, contact Florida crime victims attorney at the Law Office of Michael D. Barber for help.
Monetary and Civil Remedies for Florida Crime Victims
In addition to the concrete rights established under Marsy’s Law, crime victims also have the right to pursue financial compensation for the harm done to them. They may be able to obtain restitution in certain cases, depending on the defendant’s ability to pay. A Marsy’s Law attorney can help you understand if these rights exist and what options are available to receive compensation through monetary payments.
Crime victims may also be able to seek restitution for loss of property and income, as well as reimbursement for medical expenses that were incurred as a result of the crime. In certain specific circumstances, you might also be entitled to seek monetary relief and justice through the civil legal system for the following types of cases:
- Failure to provide adequate security by a business owner, leading to a crime being committed against you
- Violation of the Dram Shop laws by a business that sold alcohol to someone they shouldn’t have, leading to a drunk driving crash that hurt you
- Sexual assault violations in which the perpetrator has the financial ability to pay damages
- Crimes committed against you as a result of negligent hiring on the part of a company
You may also be able to claim compensation through the Florida Bureau of Victim Compensation. In order to qualify, you must have cooperated fully with law enforcement and the State Attorney’s Office. You must also have reported the crime within 72 hours of its happening unless there were good reasons for reporting later.
If a claim for victims’ compensation is submitted before the expiration of one year from the date of the crime (or two years in certain cases), you may be able to request various types of victim compensation benefits, including:
- Disability benefits
- Loss of support
- Compensation for wage loss
- Compensation for property loss
- Reimbursement for expenses
- Sexual battery relocation assistance
- Domestic violence relocation assistance
- Human trafficking relocation assistance
Reach out to an experienced attorney today
No matter what type of crime or indignity you have suffered, know that the crime victim attorneys at the Law Office of Michael D. Barber are prepared to fight aggressively on your behalf. We approach these cases with the discretion and care that you deserve and will work hard to help you move on from your experiences.
To learn more about your rights and how we can help, contact our law office at 407-890-8000 to schedule a free consultation today.