In mid-May, the Wisconsin state legislature approved a constitutional amendment in favor of the rights of crime victims. Called Marsy’s Law, the amendment will appear on Wisconsin ballots in the April 2020 election – so just over a year from now.
What is Marsy’s Law?
Marsy’s Law basically duplicates all the victim protections that already exist in Wisconsin law. However, it adds other rights for victims, too, including:
- The right to be heard at plea, parole and revocation proceedings
- The right to refuse a defense attorney’s interview request, as well as deposition or discovery requests
- The right to attend all proceedings related to their cases
Senator Mark Miller (D-Monona) argued against the amendment, saying, “I believe that this will actually delay a just and speedy trial.”
Marsy’s Law isn’t only specific to Wisconsin. Other states have enacted it, as well. It was part of a nationwide effort in the 1980s to expand victim rights – but many senators are arguing that it’s not really adding much by way of victim rights.
Opponents of the bill also argue that it’ll make it more difficult to defend people. The American Civil Liberties Union, which favors the bill, says that “Defendants’ rights are checks against government abuse. They prevent the government from arresting and imprisoning anyone, for any reason, and at any time.”
Wisconsin was actually the first state to adopt any type of crime victim bill of rights – ours dates back to 1980.
“The difference between our current constitution and the resolution before us is that the current language is not the language that is the result of a well-funded effort by a California billionaire to have his version of victims’ rights implemented to every state constitution like he did in California, said Sen. Miller.
What Does Marsy’s Law Mean for the Accused?
If you’ve been accused of a crime, Marsy’s Law – if passed on the ballot in April 2020 – will mean that victims will have a right to participate in all aspects of your trial.
What if You’ve Been Accused of a Crime?
If you’ve been accused of any crime – felony or misdemeanor – you have the right to an attorney. You can call us at 414-383-6700 at any time for a free case review with an experienced Milwaukee criminal defense attorney.