On November 6, 2018, voters in Oklahoma passed Marsy’s Law (State Question 794). This constitutional amendment grants stronger constitutional rights for crime victims. It gives them more information and input during the criminal justice process. The goal of Marsy’s law is to ensure that crime victims have the same rights as the accused and convicted.
The entire text of Article 2 § 34 of the Oklahoma Constitution, which enumerates victim’s rights
To secure justice and due process for victims throughout the criminal and juvenile justice systems, a victim of a crime shall have the following rights, which shall be protected by law in a manner no less vigorous than the rights afforded to the accused: to be treated with fairness and respect for the victim’s safety, dignity and privacy; upon request, to reasonable and timely notice of and to be present at all proceedings involving the criminal or delinquent conduct; to be heard in any proceeding involving release, plea, sentencing, disposition, parole and any proceeding during which a right of the victim is implicated; to reasonable protection; upon request, to reasonable notice of any release or escape of an accused; to refuse an interview or other request made by the accused or any person acting on behalf of the accused, other than a refusal to appear if subpoenaed by defense counsel; to full and timely restitution; to proceedings free from unreasonable delay and a prompt conclusion of the case; upon request, to confer with the attorney for the state; and to be informed of all rights enumerated in this section. The victim, the victim’s attorney or other lawful representative, or the attorney for the state upon request of the victim may assert in any trial or appellate court, or before any other authority with jurisdiction over the case, and have enforced the rights enumerated in this section and any other right afforded to the victim by law. The court or other authority with jurisdiction shall act promptly on such a request. This section does not create any cause of action for compensation or damages against the state, any political subdivision of the state, any officer, employee or agent of the state or of any of its political subdivisions, or any officer or employee of the court. As used in this section, a “victim” includes any person against whom the criminal offense or delinquent act is committed or who is directly and proximately harmed by the commission of the offense or act. The term “victim” does not include the accused or a person whom the court finds would not act in the best interests of a deceased, incompetent, minor or incapacitated victim. The Legislature, or the people by initiative or referendum, has the authority to enact substantive and procedural laws to implement, preserve and protect the rights guaranteed to victims by this section. The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights for victims shall not be construed to deny or disparage other rights guaranteed by the Legislature or retained by victims.
Future of Marsy’s Law in Oklahoma
On May 28, 2019 the Governor signed the legislation implementing the new constitutional provisions in Marsy’s Law. Those changes go into effect on November 1, 2019. I believe Marsy’s Law will slow down the criminal justice system. It tasks overworked DA’s offices with more responsibilities. I’ve already seen hearings get moved to a later date due to the failure to comply with Marsy’s Law. While the supporters of this law have good intentions, Oklahoma may suffer from the law of unintended consequences.
Charged with a crime in Oklahoma? Call Oklahoma criminal defense lawyer Frank Urbanic in OKC at 405-633-3420.