Victims' rights measure gets backing from panel

By News Service of Florida

A proposal to expand the rights of crime victims in the state Constitution was approved Friday by a committee of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission.

The Declaration of Rights Committee approved a measure (Proposal 96), sponsored by Commissioner Tim Cerio of Tallahassee, that would “ensure crime victims’ rights and interests are respected and protected by law in a manner no less vigorous than protections afforded to criminal defendants.”

It would establish a host of rights, including the right to be free from harassment, intimidation or abuse from people accused of crimes or their associates.

It also would establish the right to be informed if a defendant is released from jail or escapes.

What’s more, it would seek to ensure restitution for victims and the right to be notified of all major developments in cases.

Cerio said while there are constitutional protections for defendants, the measure is aimed at bringing “the scales of justice into balance for Florida victims and their families.”

The measure, known as “Marsy’s Law,” after a California woman who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend, is co-sponsored by seven other members of the Constitution Revision Commission, but it drew concerns Friday from defense attorneys.

The measure now heads to the full commission, where it must win support from at least 22 members to appear on the 2018 general election ballot.

Constitutional amendments on the ballot must be approved by at least 60 percent of the voters to be enacted

News Service of Florida