Florida Crime Victims’ Rights Measure on November Ballot

//Florida Crime Victims’ Rights Measure on November Ballot

Florida Crime Victims’ Rights Measure on November Ballot

By |2018-07-12T21:54:16+00:00July 12th, 2018|criminal defense law|Comments Off on Florida Crime Victims’ Rights Measure on November Ballot

On the ballot come November in the Sunshine State is a measure that will substantially expand the rights of crime victims in the disposition of the criminal charges against a defendant that personally affected the victim in Florida.  Amendment 6, as the ballot proposal is known, would allow for increased personal participation by crime victims in the criminal proceedings against the criminal defendant that victimized them.  Although many police departments as well as local States’ Attorney Offices around Florida always have attempted to keep crime victims in the loop when it comes to the disposition of such charges, the measure will allow for a standardized set of procedures across the state that will be predictable and will not change from Monroe County in southernmost Florida to Escambia County in northwestern Florida.  Although the measure will help to give crime victims an increased role in Florida’s criminal justice system, this measure (if passed) unfortunately could also have a negative impact on the rights of criminal defendants in Florida.

What Rights Would the Ballot Measure Provide to Crime Victims in Florida? 

According to a Tampa Bay Times report on the Florida crime victims’ rights measure, it was based on similar victims’ rights bills in other states that all stem from a broader national movement known as “Marsy’s Laws.”  The movement’s name derives from the 1983 death of a California woman, Marsy Nicholas, who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend.  If passed by 60 percent of voters in November, the measure would provide Florida crime victims with a whole host of rights; these would be considered constitutional rights under the Florida state constitution. Among them are the rights for crime victims to attend and “be heard” during court proceedings as well as to “full and timely restitution.”  The measure would also ensure victims have the right to speak with prosecutors about issues such as plea agreements, restitution and sentencing prior to the prosecutor taking a position with the court on those issues.  The proposed measure would also establish a right for the safety of victims and their family members to be considered when bail is set in criminal cases by the presiding judge in a criminal proceeding.

Are There Safeguards in the Measure for the Rights of Criminal Defendants?

Although this bill will help to ensure that crime victims have an increased say in the disposition of criminal charges against defendants in Florida, it could make it more difficult for criminal defendants who also have constitutional rights at stake in Florida criminal proceedings.  For this reason, it was unfortunate that several proposed changes to the final language of the measure, proposed by a member of the Constitutional Revision Commission that drafted the measure who practices as a criminal defense attorney, were rejected by the Commission; the proposed changes would have ensured the measure was also consistent with the rights of criminal defendants.  As an example, the measure as it will appear on the ballot in November could make it more difficult for criminal defendants to be released on bail pending trial since the victims, who may have an ax to grind against a criminal defendant, will now play a key role in the judge’s determination as to whether a criminal defendant should be released on bail pending trial or not.  This could result in a criminal defendant who might otherwise have been released on bail languishing in prison prior to trial.  After all, regardless of whatever evidence police may have gathered in a preliminary investigation that resulted in an arrest and criminal charges being filed, a criminal defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in our criminal justice system.  

Contact Experienced West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney Bryan Raymond

If you were arrested in Palm Beach County for any criminal offense, experienced West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney Bryan M. Raymond of the Law Office of Bryan Raymond represents both adults and juveniles who have been charged with all manner of criminal offenses in Palm Beach County.  Given that criminal defendants may soon be facing an increased role for crime victims in their criminal proceedings in Florida, it is important to ensure that your rights are protected. Therefore, if you have been arrested for a criminal offense in Palm Beach County, Florida, and need a skilled, experienced criminal defense attorney who will stop at nothing in defending you, immediately contact experienced criminal defense attorney Bryan Raymond today at (561) 682-1115 or bryan@raymondlaw.net.