Law to increase victims' rights proposed

Marsy's Law and similar acts in effect in several other states

By Ashley Harding - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A proposed law would give victims of crime more rights than they have enjoyed before. Victims' advocates say Marsy's Law needs to happen in Florida.

When a person is arrested, the police officer reads them their Miranda rights. This lets the accused know what their rights are. Marsy's Law would guarantee victims have rights, as well. 

Marie Colee is happy, now. She is a true survivor, just like her tattoo proclaims.
 
"It's just my little badge of honor," Colee said. "It's also a discussion piece. If someone wants to know what that's about, then I can talk about my story."
 
That story began when Colee fell in love and married her first husband. It wasn't long after that the abuse began, she said, starting with verbal and emotional abuse and, eventually, leading to physical violence.
 
"He was famous for hitting me in the head with things," Colee said. "I used to say, 'If I had a dollar for every house phone or cellphone or alarm clock that I ended up being the brunt of, I could
probably take a six month vacation.'"
 
Colee said after 22 years, she got the courage to leave for good, and filed for a restraining order.
 
Marie Colee turned to the people at Hubbard House, an organization for abused women, and they helped give her the tools she needed to get away from her abuser.
 
As Colee worked her way through the courts, there were moments where she felt powerless.
That's why Colee said Florida needs Marsy's Law. If approved, Florida’s Constitution would be amended to include rights for victims.
 
No longer would victims be forced to be deposed by the defense. They would be notified of major developments in the criminal case. Victims would also be informed if the defendant is released from custody.

Marsy's Law would give victims the rights Colee never had.

"I'm getting chill bumps because I am so excited," Colee said. "I think this is so needed, immensely. People will now have rights to stand up in court and be heard."

Colee and her husband have adopted her son's two little girls. She says her son has struggled with the trauma of the abuse. Colee's hope is to make things better for all survivors.
 
Marsy’s Law is making its way through committee votes. If it passes, it will be placed on the ballot in  November. 

There is also a Constitution Revision Commission hearing in Jacksonville from 1-7 p.m. Feb. at the Herbert University Center at UNF, 12000 Alumni Drive in Jacksonville.
 
Marsy’s Law is named after Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas of California who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. 

Only one week after her death, Marsy’s mother and brother, Henry T. Nicholas, walked into a grocery store where they were confronted by the accused murderer. The family, who had just come
from a visit to Marsy’s grave, was unaware that the accused had been released on bail.  In an effort to honor his sister, Dr. Nicholas, co-founder of Broadcom Corporation, has made it his
mission to give victims and their families constitutional protections and equal rights. He formed Marsy’s Law for All in 2009, providing expertise and resources to victims’ rights.

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