New Ohio law giving more rights to crime victims now in effect
Victims of crime in Ohio now have new constitutionally protected rights thanks to voters and state lawmakers.
Rep. Andrea White (R-Kettering) said victims now have recourse they’ve needed for so long and is “justice for all.”
“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 who are accused and convicted of crimes,” White said.
Marsy’s Law is named after Marsy Nicholas, a native Ohioan, who was killed by her ex-boyfriend in California in 1983. Immediately following her funeral service, while shopping at a grocery store, her family encountered the man who was, at that time, charged with the crime. Marsy’s family did not know he had been released on bail.
Since then, her family has fought to give crime victims nationwide rights of notification when the person alleged to have committed that crime faces court proceedings. To date, more than a dozen states, including Ohio, have passed the law that gives constitutional rights to crime victims.
It affects more than notification
Marsy’s Law spells out procedures to ensure victims are also allowed to be present and heard when criminal justice proceedings take place. The new law takes steps to ensure victims are notified of their rights and that courts implement those rules consistently when the victims choose to assert them. And it is meant to protect the privacy of victims by allowing them to prevent their names, addresses and identifying information from being released to the public.
The executive director of the Ohio Crime Victim Justice Center, Cathy Lee Harper, said this new law will allow victims to exercise control over rights that previously were unenforceable.
“Victim’s rights laws were elusory, paper promises with no means of enforcement and as a result, routinely ignored,” Harper said.
While Harper said she is grateful for the new changes this law brings, she urged lawmakers to make one more. Harper said now that crime victims in Ohio now have a right to retain an attorney for their case, state legislators also need to make sure there are funds set aside to help those victims who cannot afford that legal representation.