Marsy’s Law

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In 2018, North Carolina voters approved a new amendment to the North Carolina Constitution known as Marsy’s Law the Crime Victim’s Rights Amendment has changed much of how criminal district court operates throughout the state.

What exactly is the Crime Victim’s Rights Amendment? The CRVA or as it is more commonly known Marsy’s Law, is an amendment to the State Constitution that codified rights given to victims in the criminal justice process. Some of these rights include; the right to be present at court proceedings of the accused, the right to be reasonably heard at hearings that involve a plea that disposes the case, the right to be heard at a sentencing hearing, the right to reasonably confer with the District Attorney’s office, the right to information about the release or parole of the accused, and more.

Does Marsy’s Law affect all criminal cases? No, many cases do not involve a victim, for example drug possession cases are often described as victimless crimes where the listed victim is the State of North Carolina. Marsy’s Law only affects those cases that have an actual victim, for example:

  1. Impaired Driving resulting in injury to the victim,
  2. All kinds of assault and battery,
  3. Hazing,
  4. Kidnapping,
  5. Cyberstalking,
  6. Violation of a Domestic Violence Protective Order or 50B,
  7. And more.

How does Marsy’s Law affect my criminal case? The first and probably biggest impact that Marsy’s Law has on the average criminal case is during the rescheduling of cases. When a case is continued there is now an extra party to ensure that each date works for everyone and to get everyone’s consent. Furthermore, it greatly affects the defense attorney’s ability to reschedule a court date before the actual court date. Another effect that Marsy’s Law has is in the negotiation of pleas, as the victim now has a say in those negotiations these often become more difficult or more lengthy processes. It is important to know though, that even though the victim has a say in these matters, the ultimate decision is still made by the District Attorney’s office.

I’m a victim, how do I know my rights are being respected? Criminal cases are different than every other kind of case in the court system, usually the defendant and the victim are on opposite sides of the case. However, in criminal cases, the defendant is usually on the opposite side of the case as the State of North Carolina. This means that as the victim in a criminal case, you aren’t really represented, hiring a knowledgeable attorney can help to make sure that your rights and interests are being communicated effectively not only to the district attorney but also to the court. It is often important to hire or consult with your own attorney especially in domestic situations, because the defendant’s attorney can not give you legal advice.

If you have a case that is covered by Marsy’s Law and you have questions or if you are a victim seeking your own legal representation, contact us today.