The Marsy’s Law for All victims’ rights initiative seeks to amend state constitutions like North Carolina that do not currently offer enforceable protections giving victims of crimes equal rights already afforded to the accused and convicted.
A constitutional amendment for victims’ rights in North Carolina will guarantee equal rights to crime victims in a number of important ways:
- informing victims and their families about their rights and the services available to them
- giving them the right to receive notification of proceedings and major developments in a criminal case
- protecting their safety by notifying them in a timely manner regarding changes to the offender’s custodial status
- allowing victims and their families to exercise their right to be present - and heard - at court proceedings
- providing input to the prosecutor before a plea agreement is finalized
- establishing the right to restitution
While North Carolina does have some victims’ rights protections in statute, it is not always consistently applied from county to county and regionally. In a large, diversely populated state with 100 counties and as many local governments, that often means victims’ rights aren’t fully recognized. There is a need to amend the constitution to ensure consistent enforcement of victims’ rights statewide.
North Carolina has a two-step process to amend the state constitution, first legislative followed by a statewide vote. During the 2017 legislative session, Marsy’s Law passed the state House with overwhelming bipartisan support and is awaiting a vote in the Senate - as early as the May 2018 short session. Once it passes the Senate by a ⅗ margin, it will be sent for consideration by voters statewide, as early as November 2018.
Marsy’s Law will ensure that crime victims are given the dignity and respect that they deserve, including constitutional protections, just as those who are accused and convicted of crimes.