COLUMBUS – After nearly a five-year battle to ensure victims of crime are treated fairly and consistently across Ohio’s criminal justice system, legislation carried in the 134th General Assembly by State Representative Andrea White (R-Kettering) has been signed into law and goes into effect Today.
Called “Marsy’s Law,” the legislation aligns Ohio’s laws and criminal justice system practices with the protections provided in the constitutional amendment that 83% of Ohioans overwhelmingly supported in November of 2017.
“At the heart of this legislation are the rights of crime victims,” White said. “Marsy’s Law ensures that victims of crime and their families are treated with fairness and respect for their safety, dignity and privacy; and that they have guaranteed rights on the same level as those accused and convicted of crimes. Justice for all.”
The bill puts standards, procedures and guardrails in place to help protect and enforce these rights for all victims at every step of the criminal justice process, including a new Victim’s Rights Request Form. The form will be used across all agencies and will be provided to victims of a crime at the earliest contact with law enforcement. This form will help victims know and invoke their rights, while informing everyone involved in the legal process of victims’ choices throughout the trial and post-conviction process.
“Justice for crime victims should not depend on where you live. That’s why this law is needed now – to make sure victims are treated fairly and consistently across our state’s criminal justice system, that they are not only told their rights, but given the full opportunities to exercise them,” White said. “We want to ensure our laws align with all the rights our Constitution clearly protects – both for the victims, the accused and the state – whether you’re from Cleveland, Coshocton or Clermont County.
Marsy’s Law prescribes specific requirements within the criminal justice system to ensure the protection of rights including:
- The Supreme Court must create a Victim’s Rights Request Form, which ensures victims are notified of their rights, and that every criminal justice system official is aware of the rights each victim has chosen to assert.
- New procedures to ensure that victims’ rights to be notified, present and heard during criminal justice proceedings are protected.
- The right of victims to have their names, addresses and identifying information protected from public release.
- Guidance for criminal justice system officials and victims alike on mandatory restitution proceedings.
- Procedures for attorneys enforcing victims’ rights at the trial and appeals court levels.
More information on victims’ rights included in Ohio law, and a toolkit to help victims is available through the Ohio Crime Victim Justice Center website.
To watch the press conference visit the Ohio Channel.