North Carolina Victims’ Rights Amendment Fact Guide for Voters
With only a few short weeks left, the political season is reaching a fever pitch. Partisan rhetoric is as strong as ever and in North Carolina, six amendments on the November ballot this year have taken the place - and the attention - of this year’s campaign season as a statewide issue.
Unfortunately, much of the political rancor has included misinformation about one of the amendments North Carolina voters will be considering on November 6 - strengthening victims’ rights in the state constitution. The campaign for victims’ rights, known as Marsy’s Law for NC, will continue to share the facts about this important amendment so that North Carolina’s voters have accurate information to vote and are able to distinguish between fact and fiction.
Fact: The victims’ rights amendment is a North Carolina-specific law
The law North Carolina voters are considering on November 6 is unique to North Carolina, debated and adapted after more than a year of consideration with input from a broad group of stakeholders including the Administrative Office of the Courts and law enforcement. While the amendment is part of a national victims’ rights movement known as Marsy’s Law that seeks to provide stronger rights in states that don’t already provide stronger rights for crime victims, the North Carolina law builds on technology and processes that are in place. This law will elevate victims’ rights to a needed constitutional level so that victims are guaranteed information related to their case, given opportunities to speak during the process and provided important notifications when their attackers are released from custody.
Fact: The victims’ rights amendment is non-partisan
Unfortunately, there has been misinformation about the victims’ amendment in various news and social media - even claiming that this law is grouped with the other amendments and affiliated with a political party. The fact is that it this amendment is independent from the others. It was debated thoroughly by elected officials in both political parties - for more than a year - before it passed the General Assembly in June with an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of more than 150 yes votes from Democrats and Republicans. Only during campaign season have voters been told it is partisan - which is both untrue and misleading.
Fact: The victims’ rights amendment will fill gaps in the current law to give victims of crime stronger rights they deserve
This law is not redundant. There are gaps in current law that leave victims and their families uninformed, and in some cases - unprotected. The rights in law today can be unpredictable, and are not applied consistently in every county. Some victims will be kept informed by their DAs about cases, or notified by the state when their attacker is released, and some will not. It’s not guaranteed by law under current statute. Defendants already have rights protected in the constitution - meaning today in North Carolina, their rights carry stronger weight by law than even their own victims.
Fact: This will not be a financial burden to the state
The nonpartisan fiscal staff with the legislature provided a review that found this law to be a fraction of the cost that opponents are citing. Providing notification to victims about their case - including when the accused is released - is the primary cost associated with this law. It may cost some money to upgrade this notification technology, but most North Carolinians agree that victims and their families deserve to be informed, and given the peace of mind to know when their attacker is released from custody.
For detailed information on the bill language and the fiscal note, visit: https://www.sosnc.gov/divisions/nc_constitutional_documents/h551
Fact: No rights are taken away by this amendment; it simply elevates victims’ rights to co-equal status in the constitution as the accused
This amendment takes nothing away from current constitutional rights criminal defendants have to access fair trials and due process. Any group suggesting the contrary is either misinformed or misleading voters.
The Victims’ rights amendment team is committed to providing the facts surrounding this important campaign in the weeks leading to November 6. There is no issue more important this year in North Carolina than supporting stronger, guaranteed, constitutional level rights for victims of crime.
For comprehensive information on the victims’ rights amendment, visit the website at: https://www.marsyslawfornc.com/