Recently, the Supreme Court took over the jurisdiction of a dispute centering around a victim’s rights referendum known as “Amendment 6.” Controversy erupted around whether or not the bill belongs on the ballot. Tallahassee Circuit Court Judge, Karen Gievers, yanked the bill from the ballot rendering a 12-page decision that basically accused the bill of packaging more than meets the eye. While this is great if you’re buying your children transformers, it doesn’t necessarily work for parcels of legislation. Florida law requires that there be a “truth in packaging” mandate before any bill is submitted to the voters. According to Gievers, Amendment 6 failed that basic standard.
What is Amendment 6?
On the surface, Amendment 6 is a “victim’s rights bill” that is being hailed as a “victim’s bill of rights” and is otherwise known as Marsy’s Law. Marsy’s Law is a proposed constitutional amendment that provides victims of crimes with additional protections. What isn’t clear, necessarily, is what kinds of protections the proposed amendment would provide. Further, there may be other agendas hidden beneath the surface.
As part of the marketing campaign for the bill, proponents are saying that it will give the victims of a crime “the same rights” as those who have been accused or convicted of a crime. But what exactly does that mean?
No one is entirely sure. What’s true is that individuals who are accused or convicted of a crime do have specific rights that are spelled out for them. Victims, survivors, and family of victims do not have specific rights spelled out for them. Why not?
The answer to that question is deceptively simple. Rights exist for the sole purpose of protecting the citizens of a country from their government. That’s their only real function. The reason why victims don’t have their rights explicitly spelled out is because they don’t need to be protected from their government. So, to what extent it makes sense to spell out their rights is something of a mystery.
Florida is not the Only State Pondering a Marsy’s Law
Marsy’s Law is popping up all over the country as pundits rally behind a non-existent problem with a dubious solution. As more and more people rally around the concept that victims deserve rights, it must be remarkably baffling to them why victims never had them to begin with. What kind of government gives rights to criminals but not to their victims?
Meanwhile, in reality, the bill fails to inform voters that it would result in the loss of constitutional rights for criminal defendants, would limit the appeals process, and victims of crimes already have rights under the Constitution.
In other words, while under the banner of a victim’s rights legislation, it actually gives the government more power over those it has accused of crimes.
The Florida Supreme Court will decide if the bill needs to be repackaged before it is put on the ballot.
Contact a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney… While You Still Can
You’re still entitled to a trial by jury and legal representation for your crimes. If you’ve been accused of a crime, contact the criminal defense attorneys at the Skier Law Firm P.A. either on our webpage or by telephone.