The Pennsylvania Marsy’s Law Crime Victims’ Rights Amendment bill did not see the light of day in 2019. While 74% of voters on November 5, 2019, voted to have it approved, the results were never certified.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, on December 21, 2021, decided in a 6-1 ruling that the ballot measure violated the requirement for proposed constitutional amendments. Fortunately, the amendment was approved in 2022, giving crime victims room to have a stronger voice in court. A criminal defense lawyer in Lemoyne takes you through what the amendment entails.
What is Marsy’s Law?
Marsy’s Law is a set of constitutional protections for crime victims. It ensures that crime victims have equal constitutional rights on the same level as the perpetrators of the crimes. The Law has been proposed and adopted in 12 states.
Part of the criminal justice system is to provide for the needs of crime victims, but these individuals are often left out in the entire process. The legislation seeks to ensure that victims understand their crucial role in the system and receive any compensation owed to them.
Crime victims who feel their rights have been violated can consult a Lemoyne violent crimes lawyer to help them pursue their rights.
What Rights Did the Proposed Amendment Seek to Establish?
The proposed amendment of Pennsylvania’s Crimes Victims Act sought to add a new section to Article 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution. The proposed amendment would provide more rights to crime victims that must be protected in the same way as those accused of a crime.
Specifically, it would establish the following rights:
- To be treated fairly and with respect, privacy, and dignity.
- To have the safety of their family considered when fixing the bail amount and release conditions for the crime perpetrator.
- To reasonable protection from the accused or anyone acting on behalf of the victim
- To be notified of the parole procedures and participate in them by providing relevant information.
- To be notified of the pretrial status of the case.
- To be given timely and reasonable notice to all public proceedings and attend cases involving an adult criminal or delinquent.
- To the prompt return of their property when the court no longer needs it as evidence
- To free and fair proceedings without delays
- To a prompt conclusion of the case
- To full and timely restitution as the court determines in a juvenile delinquency proceeding
- To confer with the attorney for the government.
- To be informed of all these rights.
What Rights Were Amended in the 2022 Pennsylvania Crimes Victims Act?
The legislation passed by the Senate and signed into Law in 2022 gives crime victims more legal standing in court. They can now stand in court and assert their rights, as Act 77 gives them recourse when their rights are ignored.
More Support for Crime Victims
The amendment comprises added language that would reinvest savings raised through companion legislation into crime victim service. That would help streamline service delivery to ensure more victims receive the needed help. Law enforcement officers responding to a case must now provide basic information on the rights and services available to crime victims.
Access to More Information
Crime victims have the right to get information on the following:
- Court events, including the bail availed to the offender, escape or release of the offender, guilty pleas, court hearings, and sentencing.
- The details of the case’s final disposition
A victim has the right to comment on the bail offered to the defendant when the bail conditions are imposed. They also have a right to be present at a subsequent proceeding where bail conditions are modified.
The Right to Timely Notification
Victims also have a right to get the following:
- A formal notice when the law enforcers arrest the offender
- Details about restitution and compensation assistance
- Information on whether they can be accompanied to the criminal proceedings by a family member, support person, or a victim advocate
Additionally, crime victims have the right to participate in the following:
- The sentencing decision and getting legal help in preparing a verbal or written impact statement
- Post-sentencing matters, including medical or compassionate release, pardons and clemency, and parole consideration
These rights are already in the Pennsylvania Crime Victims Act, but some may only be available to personal injury crime victims. Besides, some rights are only available when the offender is a juvenile. You may want to consult with a crime victim lawyer in Lemoyne, PA, for legal guidance.
The Right to Be Enrolled into the Address Confidentiality Program
According to the amendment, House Bill 2464 also ensures that victims’ right to be enrolled in the Address Confidentiality Program (ACP) is upheld. It exempts those enrolled from providing their telephone number and address publicly when their life might be in danger.
The program is open to sexual assault, domestic violence, human trafficking, and stalking victims. They may provide an alternative address to conceal their actual home address. The program is a part of an overall safety plan for victims who plan to move or have recently moved from a residence known to the accused.
Enrollment in the program is valid for three years, and beneficiaries may renew their registration upon expiry. You can contact your local victim service agency if you’re interested in the ACP program. Alternatively, you can consult a violent crimes attorney in Lemoyne to ensure a complete understanding of how it works.
An Experienced Crime Victim Attorney Defending Your Rights
Victims of criminal activities may not have enjoyed the same rights as the crime perpetrators during court proceedings in the past. Thanks to Pennsylvania’s Crimes Victims Act amendment in 2022, they now have access to more information and better treatment concerning their cases. A Lemoyne crime victim lawyer can work with crime victims to ensure their rights are upheld.
Our law firm can provide support and legal representation for victims of crime in Pennsylvania. We have lawyers who combine their award-winning skills with years of experience in the field to help clients get favorable outcomes in their cases. You don’t have to fight for your rights all by yourself. Contact our law firm to schedule a FREE in-depth case evaluation.