Kettering state rep introduces Ohio crime victims ‘bill of rights’

A Republican state lawmaker on Tuesday introduced a bill that would put the enhanced rights of crime victims from “Marsy’s Law” into action.

“The Ohio Constitution states that the rights of crime victims shall be protected in a manner no less vigorous than the rights of the accused, and House Bill 343 aims to do just that,” state Rep. Andrea White, of Kettering, stated in a release.

Ohio voters in November 2017 overwhelmingly approved the “Marsy’s Law” Crime Victims Amendment to the Ohio Constitution.

“With this bill, the constitutional protections for crime victims will be fully enabled with workable statutory provisions to achieve justice for victims,” said Speaker Bob Cupp, R-Lima.

The bill’s goals include:

  • Requiring a “Marsy’s Card” be provided to crime victims at the earliest contact with law enforcement to inform them of their rights and provide resources
  • Providing increased protections against public disclosure of victim’s personal information
  • Enhancing the right of victims to be heard in court proceedings
  • Protecting victims during the discovery process
  • Addressing a victim’s right to interpreters
  • Allowing a victim to obtain at no cost a copy of all documents filed with the court in their case
  • Requiring victims be notified of case proceedings on request and allowed to be present at all “on the record” proceedings
  • Expanding victim rights to be heard in court proceedings
  • Requiring prompt notification to crime victims in certain cases when the accused is released from or escapes incarceration
  • Providing a framework for seeking appellate redress when necessary to enforce a crime victim’s rights.

White said that the bill does not change or diminish the rights of the accused, make a crime victim a party to the case, or cause unnecessary delays in the criminal process.

Marsy’s Law was named for Marsalee Nicholas, a University of California Santa Barbara student who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. A week after Nicholas was killed, her family was confronted by the accused killer in a grocery store and had no idea he had been released on bail. The Marsy’s Law crime victims amendment has been passed in Ohio, California, Illinois, North Dakota and South Dakota.

“I look forward to working with the dozens of stakeholders already working collaboratively – including victims and victim’s rights/advocacy organizations, law enforcement professionals, judges and court staff, defense attorneys, prosecutors and other justice partners – to get this bill right and get it across the finish line,” White said.

House Bill 343 awaits referral to a House committee.

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