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Recent Changes to Georgias Crime Victim Law

With the passage of Amendment 4, Georgia's state constitution was changed so that it protects the right of crime victims to be compensated for their losses. This amendment gave victims the right to speak up and secure their place in the courtroom to be heard. This type of protection for victims' rights is often called "Marsy's law," named after a young woman murdered by her former boyfriend.

What is Marsy's Law?

Marsy's Law, also known as the Crime Victim Bill of Rights, is a victims' rights law that was first passed in 2008 in California. Its purpose is to protect the victims of crimes and their representatives through the criminal justice system. Marsy's Law ensures that the rights of victims are clearly communicated and that the victims are informed of the actions that they can take, it gives victims the right to be present and heard through their offenders trial and other stages of the legal proceedings, and allows the victims of crime the right to choose to be notified of the release or escape of their accused perpetrator.

Victims of crimes like domestic violence, homicide, any sexual offenses, cruelty to children, assault and battery, stalking or aggravated stalking, kidnapping, elder abuse, and many other crimes with the direct involvement of a victim qualify under Marsy's Law.

Who Is Marsy?

This law is named after Marsalee Ann Nicholas, who was affectionately known as Marsy by her friends and family. She was a student at the University of California Santa Barbara with a bright future ahead of her. Unfortunately, Marsy was a victim of stalking at the hands of her ex-boyfriend. His terrifying behavior escalated and in 1983 Marsy Nicholas was murdered. One week after the funeral service held for Marsy, her mother ran into the murderer in the checkout line of the local grocery store.

It was extremely jarring and uncomfortable for her mother to see her daughter's murderer. She had to confront seeing him in public, out of jail, while she was still reeling from the unexpected loss and going through the early stages of the grieving process. The Nicholas family never received any notification of the whereabouts of their daughter's murderer or the fact that he was released on bail a few short days after his arrest. Back then, there were no rights for victims. The court system did not have any obligation to inform the Nicholas family that Marsy's murderer was out on bail and freely going about town.

a photo of a judge's stand in a courtroom

On November 8th, 2008 California passed The California Victims' Bill of Rights Act of 2008: Marsy's Law. Dr. Henry Nicholas III, one of the founders of Broadcom Corp. and Marsy's brother, sponsored and founded Marsy's Law For All after his success in aiding the passage of Marsy's Law in California's State Constitution. This initiative named after his sister was created in 2009. Its purpose is to help victims all over the United States to have more protected rights and to support the national movement for the guarantee of certain rights of victims.

Marsy's Law is the most extensive and thorough protection for victims' rights in the United States.  An official Marsy's Law has been passed in 12 states including Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, South Dakota, and Nevada.

Recent Changes to the Georgia Crime Victim Act

Georgia Amendment 4, which is the Crime Victim Rights Amendment, was on the Georgia state ballot on November 6th, 2018. Georgia's version of Marsy's Law was passed with 80% of votes being in favor of the addition of Amendment 4 to Section 1, Article I of the Georgia Constitution. 

Previous to November of 2008, Georgia had a Crime Victims Bill of Rights but it was only a state statute and not included in the rights provided by the state constitution. Now, the people of Georgia have constitutionally protected rights when dealing with the criminal prosecution of their offender if they find themselves the victim of a crime. With more states adopting Marsy's law to their state constitutions, victims and the families of crime victims have the ability to take a more active role in the court proceedings.

Some of the rights of crime victims protected by the Georgia constitution include:

  • The right to notice of any court proceedings or any changes to court proceedings
  • The right to inclusion in all court proceedings (except in cases where the law allows the exclusion of the victim)
  • The right to legal proceedings without superficial and unreasonable delay
  • The right to notice of arrest, release, or escape of the accused perpetrator
  • The right to be heard in court when dealing with things such as pleas, sentencing, or the release of the accused
  • The right to enter a written objection to the court at any parole hearing held for the accused
  • The right to receive restitution, as allowed by the law
  • The right to be treated impartially by criminal justice agencies

If you have been the victim of a crime and it has left you injured might qualify for compensation under Georgia's laws. At Marks Law Group we can help determine if you are eligible to recover compensation and advise you on what steps you can take to recover it. If you would like to schedule a free consultation with an Atlanta crime victim lawyer feel free to call us at (800) 899-5999 or fill out our online form. We look forward to hearing from you!

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