Will victims’ rights trump defendants’ rights under Marsy’s Law?  Believe it or not, this is often a question asked of Marsy’s Law campaigns across the country – whether the accused and defendants will continue to have the rights afforded to them in state and federal constitutions, or if their rights will be taken away in favor of victims.

The short and simple answer is that no – the rights of the accused will not be impacted under Marsy’s Law. Nothing is taken away from the accused under Marsy’s Law, it simply gives victims of crime similar constitutional protections, or co-equal rights, as the accused. It seems like common sense that victims are treated the same in the eyes of the law – put another way, it will mean that no rapist has more rights than the victim and no murderer is afforded more rights than the victim’s family.  

Consider the imagery of the scales of justice in our country – the goal of these scales is to reach and maintain a balance. Our government is founded on a system of checks and balances and courts will always have the ability to balance rights if a conflict arises between the rights of a victim and a defendant. Currently, there is not constitutional balance without victims’ rights being on equal footing from the start.

Marsy’s Law will ensure that victims’ have the same rights as those who are accused – nothing more and, more importantly, nothing less.  This is not about taking anything away – from anyone – Marsy’s Law is victims’ rights advocacy – supporting equal footing for those in our society who have been hurt the most.

Marsy’s Law for All seeks to ensure that victims join the accused in having rights articulated in the constitution.  Equal footing for those of us who did not choose the role of victim in the first place.

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