Photo: Jessica Szilagyi

The following article is an opinion piece and reflects the views of only the author and not necessarily those of AllOnGeorgia.


Georgia has 5 Constitutional Amendments on the ballot this year and while I plan to vote NO on all five, the one I am most adamantly against is No. 4.

Amendment 4, known as Marsy’s Law, addresses rights of victims of crime. It is part of a national effort to add additional rights and privileges for victims of crime. It’s named after California college student Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas, who was stalked and killed in 1983 by an ex-boyfriend. It is already codified in state statute.

The amendment allows, upon request, crime victims to have specific rights, including the right to be treated with “fairness, dignity, and respect;” the right to notice of all proceedings involving the alleged criminal; the right to be heard at any proceedings involving that release, plea, or sentencing of the accused; and the right to be informed of their rights. The amendment also explicitly stated that the legislature was able to further define, expand, and provide for the enforcement of the rights.

The measure has been approved by voters in California, Ohio, Illinois, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota, but not without effects. In 2018, voters in Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Nevada, North Carolina and Oklahoma will consider versions of it.

The amendment will appear on the Georgia ballot as follows:

Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to provide certain rights to victims against whom a crime has allegedly been perpetrated and allow victims to assert such rights?

Sounds heartwarming, but…that’s intentional from the powers that be. I’ll be voting NO and here’s why:

My reasons for voting NO are numbered but are in no particular order of importance.

  1. As proposed in the Constitutional Amendment, it deals with “alleged” perpetrators, not those already convicted of a crime. In some states, unintended consequences have resulted in problems of due process.Read this from The Gazette: “Marsy’s Law would interfere with a defendant’s Sixth Amendment due process rights, said John Piro, the chief deputy public defender for Nevada’s Clark County, by giving people harmed by a crime the right to be heard before the alleged perpetrator has pleaded innocent or guilty.” And in South Dakota, the approved Marsy’s Law has resulted in longer jail stays while courts wait for victims to be notified. Officials say it’s led to notification in even the simplest of crimes, like vandalism, and swamped staff with additional paperwork.
  2. It’s duplicative because it’s already state law. Joe Mulholland, a District Attorney in South Georgia, told his local paper that the amendment is technically already part of the law. “It’s already technically part of Georgia law, but the legislature felt like being a part of the constitution is even stronger. Having that and knowing its part of the constitution, I think it gives peace of mind to prosecutors.” Victims have the opportunity to opt-in to the notification process and be involved in the proceedings as much as they so choose under current law.
  3. It will bog down the legal process. The state of Illinois hasn’t seen a slow down in actual proceedings, but Lee Roupas, president of the Illinois Prosecutors Bar Association has said “There’s definitely an increase in administrative burden as far as notification goes.” since the state passed the measure in 2014. 
  4. Changing the State Constitution is serious business, something the ACLU opposes because it will leave no room for discretion or change without ANOTHER Constitutional Amendment.

    “We certainly believe that crime victims should be supported, but Marsy’s Law is really a one-size-fits-all, outsourced approach for how to support crime victims,” said Susanna Birdsong of the ACLU of North Carolina i
    n the News Observer, which is urging voters to reject the amendment. She says the change “leaves no legislative discretion to fill in the gaps or complete the picture,” tying the hands of state leaders from tweaking the process when needed.
  5. It will be expensive.

    Georgia has not released any documentation on the financial impact, but in North Carolina, where the measure is also on the ballot, the legislature’s nonpartisan Fiscal Research Division estimates Marsy’s Law could cost at least $11 million a year to fund.

    In South Dakota, lawmakers have worked to repeal the Constitutional Amendment earlier this year because of the high costs. KSFY ABC reported that “Marsy’s Law laid the ground work for a costly victims notification system, with a price tag of more than $100,000 dollars for Minnehaha County. It’s costing the state upwards of $5 million.”” Those same lawmakers say it has also hampered ongoing investigations and has caused confusion over what information can and cannot be released to the public and the media. Law enforcement officials have even said it hinders how the public assists with investigations.

    And Montana officials have said similar things: “Somebody steals a hair brush from Target department store, well is the corporation the victim? Does that mean that my office is obligated not to just talk to the clerk at Target who is victimized and the store manager, but do I have to talk to corporate council at wherever that corporation is headquartered,” Yellowstone County State’s Attorney Scott Twito said. In addition, the Montana version of the law was never implemented because of a state Supreme Court challenge.
  6. It makes some people more equal under the law than others. This Constitutional Amendment would actually provide more rights for victims than it would for anyone else under the law, including the accused which is only exacerbated by the fact that it will be in the Constitution.
  7. The group pushing Marsy’s Law is well-funded. It’s billionaire backed and millions of dollars are being funneled in to each state where the initiative is on the ballot, which is unusual for an initiative that would be for limited government. Henry Nicholas, the billionaire founder of semiconductor company Broadcom, is the brother of Marsy, who the bill is named after. With such intense ties to the cause, it’s no wonder the advocates are willing to see it passed at all costs, regardless of financial or justice system-related impact. He has spent $27 million, without counting funding in 6 states in 2018, to get the measure passed in various states.
  8. Because the group is well-funded, a number of television and social media ads have been sponsored and they’re using fear to tug at the heart strings of Georgians. I don’t want any initiative passed because of fear — and it’s an unprincipled approach to policy.

    The first one, released in late September, falsely implies that victims of crimes do not have equal rights under the Constitution, which is not true. You can watch it below.

COLUMN: TV Ad for Marsy’s Law Constitutional Amendment in Georgia is misleading

The second ad is available here:

This is more about recourse for victims than anything. The state law, which is already in place, that requires notification doesn’t have a pathway for victims to actually gain anything if they are not notified or something happens. This would allow for claims of a violation of their constitutional rights should the court system fail to notify them. It sounds nice, but I still feel strongly that this isn’t the intended purpose of our Constitution. It’s frightening that the end goal is to have the U.S. Constitution amended to include this, according to the Gazette in reporting on the backer.

Benita Dodd from the Georgia Public Policy Foundation also said in an article published on their website that “A constitutional amendment is no place to risk infringing the rights of someone accused of a crime. The accused have the presumption of innocence until convicted; their life and liberty are at stake. For many suffering victims and their surviving families, there’s a fine line between justice based on a court of law and vengeance based on the alleged wrongdoing.”

And I agree.

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Jessica Szilagyi
Jessica Szilagyi is a Statewide Contributor for AllOnGeorgia.com. She focuses primarily on state and local politics as well as agricultural news. She has a background in Political Science, with a focus in local government, and has a Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia.She's a "Like It Or Not" contributor for Fox5 in Atlanta and has two blogs of her own: The Perspicacious Conservative and "Hair Blowers to Lawn Mowers."

80 COMMENTS

  1. I tend to agree with you, but your article is contradictory. At one point it says “The amendment also explicitly stated that the legislature was able to further define, expand, and provide for the enforcement of the rights” and then at another point it says “it will leave no room for discretion or change without ANOTHER Constitutional Amendment.”

    And while I’m at it . . . this sentence has a typo: “The state law, which is already in place, that requires notification doesn’t have a pathway for victims to actually gain anything if the are not notified or something happens.” Near the end “if the are not” should be “if they are not”.

    And a question regarding this paragraph . . . you’re talking about the state Constitution and suddenly refer to the US Constitution with no supporting evidence that the goal is to change the US Constitution. Are they wanting to change the US Constitution or was that a typo? (Paragraph below)

    It’s frightening that the end goal is to have the U.S. Constitution amended to include this, according to Benita Dodd from the Georgia Public Policy Foundation also said in an article published on their website that “A constitutional amendment is no place to risk infringing the rights of someone accused of a crime. The accused have the presumption of innocence until convicted; their life and liberty are at stake. For many suffering victims and their surviving families, there’s a fine line between justice based on a court of law and vengeance based on the alleged wrongdoing.”

    • Russell, thanks for catching the typo, it’s been fixed.
      The U.S. Constitution reference is linked in an article to the Gazette which I referenced a number of times since they did an extensive article on the backer of Marsy’s Law.
      When I came it at 1,300 words, it was hard me for me to include every single excerpt that I wanted to and ended up linking back to a number of articles, which you can access in the article.
      Thanks for reading.

      • Cool. I see that the last paragraph was also reworked. I had noticed it was kind of awkward, but figured when you looked back at this you’d notice that. 🙂

    • I appreciate your addressing those areas. I agree with “innocent until proven guilty”. However, I believe that victims should be notified regarding hearings, releases, and trials. Basically any information in relation to a victim’s safety.

    • According to that video’s own data, what people are paying is $6.65 in taxes per acre per year. And that’s too much? Even the “at risk” properties are only paying $15.42 per acre per year. I’m sure the people owning that land want lower taxes, but how does that truly benefit GA? What it more likely does is simply make our state poorer and enrich land owners.

      • Russell, many small private forest landowners are struggling to hold onto their forest lands. In the next few years we stand to lose an unprecedented amount of forest lands to development. These landowners are not wealthy. They sell because they need the money and it’s become too expensive to hold onto their land. Any incentives for forest land conservation are much-needed. Read the Southern Forests Futures Report. Forest lands are the best land use for drinking water protection which is my interest. I’m a die-hard Democrat but I’ll be voting yes on amendment 3.

      • Enrich land owners? You obviously don’t own forest land. Forest land only produces timber about every 40 years. Then, how much money gained is only stumpage. Which depending on the timber species is not that much. I believe we only got 3.50 per cord. You have to pay the logger to cut the timber. Because like stock prices it depends on the day when it is sold to the mills. If the price /demand is down, then you take a beating.

  2. I will be voting yes.
    My daughter was a victim and the DA & SHERIFF’S OFFICE did not inform her of anything. Nor did the victims advocate group get her money back from the convicted man. She did all the investigating, and followed up by talking with the DA’S DEPT AND TALKING TO THE INVESTIGATOR AND THE SHERRIFF
    They have no obligations to inform the victim.
    This ammendment will make them inform the victim.

    • Swell, Gail.
      Peachy.
      Excellent reasons to vote FOR it. But the devil in the details easily outweighs any benefits. When an amendment is designed DELIBERATELY to stand in the way of blind justice, to shift bias against a defendant without a trial, to allow the friends and families of victims to be afforded rights that are not provided to the alleged is the antithesis of what we call a Constitutional Representative Republic. With due respect, especially to your personal experience, you are voting with your heart and not your mind.

      If this is where the country is going then may God have mercy on us all.

      • This a complete misconception. Marsy’s Law will enforce the court system to provide victims and families of victims with information and timely notifications of proceedings and other major developments in their case. The court system is enforced to notify victims of any changes to the offenders custodial status. Only 98% of crimes go to trial. The rest are worked out through plea deals etc. So it is your misconception that this will deliberately stand in the way of justice considering a jury has to convict a criminal. Victims have the right to know if there is a plea deal and they should have the right to voice their opinion to the prosecutor. If a case goes to trial, Marsy’s Law gives the rights to victims to be present at any court proceedings and the right be heard at sentencing proceedings (AFTER the conviction of a trial by Jury). You can find all of this on the Marsy’s Law website.

        • The Amendment will not do anything different than what the Georgia Victim’s Rights code already allows. The VICTIM must REQUEST to be notified. If you don’t request to be notified, the court will not go out of it’s way to notify you.

        • Victims already have all of those rights under the current victims right law in place here in Georgia. Taking it a step further even, victims or victims family are notified of all parole proceedings involving the “criminal”. Right down to the inmate being transferred from one prison to another.

    • Sorry to hear about your daughter. I too was a victim of domestic abuse. It was horrible. But I too will be voting no on Marcy’s Law. It is already in the laws of the Victims Rights. I was informed and they stayed in contact with me as well. Maybe your country didn’t do what’s required. This is a very expensive amendment to exiting laws, that will bog down the process. And beside I don’t trust much coming out of California.

  3. Thank you for your time to research and provide this information for the public prior to the election here in Georgia. A law was pasted here many years ago that requires a victim of a crime against them be notified that the person or persons were being released by the local authorities. This has not been done due to the lack locating due to the person moving, the person has had a name change (via legal or marriage), under staffed, and/or don’t give a damn. I thoroughly believe that a victim should be notified prior to the release within a 9 month to a year prior and during that time an all out effort by the local and state authorities to notify the victim. The criminal, who has served his or her time as sentence by the authorities, should not have to be further punished, due to not locating the victim or victims. If the victim or victims are still living in the area where the crime was committed, the authority having jurisdiction should be reprimanded and a financial fine be applied by the state having jurisdiction for the victim. The Tax Payers are being Taxed enough already, especially the Elderly and persons on a fixed income. We don’t anyone else’s brother, cousin, sister, golfing buddy, etc. being paid to do nothing, with a large staff of investigators, secretary’s, automobile fleet, office space and equipment ( that was over priced and costly to maintain with communication and computer up dates every three months, there is enough alleged acts of this going on in Georgia and local governments now. Thank you for your column!

    • The reason for not doubling down on the side of the victim is the constitution, equality under the law and due process. If we through these out, then we no longer have a republic and codify a legal lynching of any defendant whether guilty or innocent. Out rights to due process has served us well but some are willing to throw it out based upon emotion and not law. Justice has no place for emotion. You would agree if you or someone you cared about were falsely accused. As the author clearly laid out, GA already has a victim’s right statute.

    • Brenda , It is already Law !
      The Georgia Crime Victims Bill of Rights, O.C.G.A. 17-17-1, et seq., provides individuals who are victims of certain crimes specific rights. These rights include:
      The right to reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of any scheduled court proceedings or any changes to such proceedings;
      The right to reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of the arrest, release, or escape of the accused;
      The right not to be excluded from any scheduled court proceedings, except as provided by law;
      The right to be heard at any scheduled court proceedings involving the release, plea, or sentencing of the accused;
      The right to file a written objection in any parole proceedings involving the accused;
      The right to confer with the prosecuting attorney in any criminal prosecution related to the victim;
      The right to restitution as provided by law;
      The right to proceedings free from unreasonable delay; and
      The right to be treated fairly and with dignity by all criminal justice agencies involved in the case.

      The Crime Victims Bill of Rights specifically applies to victims of the following crimes:
      Homicide
      Assault and Battery
      Kidnapping, False Imprisonment and related offenses
      Reckless Conduct
      Cruelty to Children
      Feticide
      Stalking/Aggravated Stalking
      Cruelty to a Person 65 Years of Age or Older
      All Sexual Offenses
      Burglary
      Arson, Bombs and Explosives
      Theft
      Robbery
      Forgery, Deposit Account Fraud, Illegal Use of Financial Transaction Cards, Other Fraud Related Offenses, Computer Crimes, & Identity Theft
      Sale or Distribution of Harmful Materials to Minors
      Elder Abuse
      Homicide by Vehicle
      Feticide by Vehicle
      Serious Injury by Vehicle

      In general, after the crime occurs and is reported, and upon initial contact with a victim, law enforcement and court personnel must advise him or her of the following:
      That it is possible that the accused may be released from custody prior to trial;
      That victims have certain rights during various stages of the criminal justice system;
      That victims have the right to refuse or agree to be interviewed by the accused, the accused’s attorney, or anyone who represents or contacts you on behalf of the accused;
      That additional information about these stages can be obtained by contacting the pertinent state and/or local agency involved, or by contacting the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council at 404-657-1956;
      That victims may be eligible for monetary compensation for certain out-of-pocket losses incurred as a result of their victimization from the Georgia Crime Victims Compensation Program administered by the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council at 404-657-2222 or 1-800-547-0060;
      That victims may have available to them community-based victim service programs and that more information may be obtained by contacting the Georgia Call Line at 1-800-GEORGIA (1-800-436-7442) to connect to other services.

  4. I will vote yes. My daughter was a victim. She has no legal protection from this man. He got off with time served before trial. They won’t even bar him from her place of work.

    • I am voting yes!
      I pray that those voting no are never victims of a crime.
      The article states “alleged” and uses this to prove this law unfair. What the author didn’t realize is that “alleged” often means that this person was on the scene of the crime with bloody hands. It often takes over two years for the “alleged” to go to trial due to backed up criminal court system. “Alleged” does not mean they are not out on bond. Or sitting in jail with all of the evidence stacked against them.

      Why informing a victim of any information regarding the case that may protect them. Is somehow seen as unconstitutional is shocking!!

    • It is already Law
      The Georgia Crime Victims Bill of Rights, O.C.G.A. 17-17-1, et seq., provides individuals who are victims of certain crimes specific rights. These rights include:
      The right to reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of any scheduled court proceedings or any changes to such proceedings;
      The right to reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of the arrest, release, or escape of the accused;
      The right not to be excluded from any scheduled court proceedings, except as provided by law;
      The right to be heard at any scheduled court proceedings involving the release, plea, or sentencing of the accused;
      The right to file a written objection in any parole proceedings involving the accused;
      The right to confer with the prosecuting attorney in any criminal prosecution related to the victim;
      The right to restitution as provided by law;
      The right to proceedings free from unreasonable delay; and
      The right to be treated fairly and with dignity by all criminal justice agencies involved in the case.

      The Crime Victims Bill of Rights specifically applies to victims of the following crimes:
      Homicide
      Assault and Battery
      Kidnapping, False Imprisonment and related offenses
      Reckless Conduct
      Cruelty to Children
      Feticide
      Stalking/Aggravated Stalking
      Cruelty to a Person 65 Years of Age or Older
      All Sexual Offenses
      Burglary
      Arson, Bombs and Explosives
      Theft
      Robbery
      Forgery, Deposit Account Fraud, Illegal Use of Financial Transaction Cards, Other Fraud Related Offenses, Computer Crimes, & Identity Theft
      Sale or Distribution of Harmful Materials to Minors
      Elder Abuse
      Homicide by Vehicle
      Feticide by Vehicle
      Serious Injury by Vehicle

      In general, after the crime occurs and is reported, and upon initial contact with a victim, law enforcement and court personnel must advise him or her of the following:
      That it is possible that the accused may be released from custody prior to trial;
      That victims have certain rights during various stages of the criminal justice system;
      That victims have the right to refuse or agree to be interviewed by the accused, the accused’s attorney, or anyone who represents or contacts you on behalf of the accused;
      That additional information about these stages can be obtained by contacting the pertinent state and/or local agency involved, or by contacting the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council at 404-657-1956;
      That victims may be eligible for monetary compensation for certain out-of-pocket losses incurred as a result of their victimization from the Georgia Crime Victims Compensation Program administered by the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council at 404-657-2222 or 1-800-547-0060;
      That victims may have available to them community-based victim service programs and that more information may be obtained by contacting the Georgia Call Line at 1-800-GEORGIA (1-800-436-7442) to connect to other services.

  5. Someone broke into my wife’s vehicle and stole her purse, running up several of her credit cards in a matter of an hour of so. Two thief’s were caught and arrested and placed in the Cobb County Jail with no bond. I specifically told the DA’s office that I wanted to be notified if they were released because my wife’s driver’s license was not recovered. Six months later, I receive a phone call from a Bank of America branch in Florida that someone had tried to use my wife’s driver’s license to access our new account number while in the drive thru window. They only missed the number by a couple of digits. Luckily, the quick thinking bank teller asked them to come into the bank and the perps drove off. I immediately contacted the jail and was notified that yes, the perps had been released about two weeks earlier. The DA’s office changed the status of victim to the credit card company so we were not notified. So yes, I believe this law is needed and victims should be notified. If you do not like this amendment, then you need to get to work detailing making acceptable changes. I’m tired of District Attorney’s taking crappy “plea” deals and releasing thugs back into society without notifying victims. I complained to the “Victim’s Advocacy” person at the DA’s office but received no comment from them. If I sound mad, I sure am. BTW, I was an active duty Deputy Sheriff during all of that and had been working Fraud and Forgery cases. I also saw several of my cases “plead” out without any commit from me or my victims. Time for this to stop and put some teeth into it. And I am sorry if it cost money, laying home at night wondering if the perps might come to your house because they have your address, will make it hard to go to sleep at night.

    • You are wrong about the notification. The law state that no notification is not required if the victim does not give the proper information to notify them. It also include the other obvious notification requirements. Here, you can read the law. And by the way, this has nothing to do with plea deals with which I agree with you on. https://law.lclark.edu/live/files/4937-georgia

      • Yes, but if you do give all current information and are still not notified until the man is at your front door….that is the issue.

    • Amen!!!!
      Until they have been victims of a crime and then victimized again by court system set in place to protect the innocent. The people voting “no” will never understand that the so called “Victims Bill of Right” is not worth the part it is written on.

    • I understand why you are upset. I would just like to point out that if the victim listed is the credit card company and not your wife, even the new admendment would not apply for notification.

  6. Thank you for this article. I had been looking for real facts about this amendment because I smelled a fish. I was victim of rape in another state and saw our justice system work. My perpetrator got 42 years but I would have been abhorred If I thought for a moment I might send an innocent man to prison. Our current laws protect the accused as it does the victim and rightly so. I trusted the system and justice prevailed. Do your homework folks!

  7. I will vote yes. My daughter was taken from a playground when she was eight years old. The guy who did this was immediately arrested, plead guilty and was sentenced to twenty years to serve ten. He was charged with kidnapping, sexual molestation, enticing a child for indecent purposes, and false imprisonment. When he had served LESS than five years, he was released prior to us even being informed it was a possibility. We were never asked to go before the parole board and not going near my daughter was not a condition of his parole. When he was released, he had gotten his GED and a college degree while in prison. But he reoffended within six months of being released – got another light sentence and then reoffended again. So yes, anything that gives more rights to the victim, I’m all for it.

    • My heart breaks for your daughter and family. Such a horrific inexcusable act. Then to not be protected or have a voice as an innocent victim is inexcusable.

  8. Unbelievable Mom of Victim. Unthinkable! I cannot imagine the fury.

    I think the problem has to do with the enforcement of laws already on the books and ignored. I think Marsy’s Law would just be another example, and I hated seeing it pushed in our area right around the time of the Kavanaugh hearings.

    Schumer’s “there is no presumption of innocence” combined with the one word, “alledgely,” in this law bother me — I would have rather it have said “victims of those convicted of a crime.”

    What happened with your daughter and Mr. Hick’s wife — y’all were victims of convicted criminals and your voices need to win out. I just don’t think Marsy’s Law will do anything but drown out your voices by throwing you into a sea full of screaming alledged victims. Too much for the life guards on duty already apparently. Either they are short-staffed or neglect of duty grows more commonplace in a stand-down world. Unbearably unfortunate either way.

  9. Wow a lot of research on paper looking at articles reading figuring numbers and going by words. Maybe some of you folks should try getting off the computer and doing your research by finding the true real life stories of what victims actually go through. Try sitting down with victims and having empathy through hearing their stories when the judicial system has failed them. Try walking in their shoes. Money numbers and your so called research mean nothing when it comes to life and fear of living it because you were a victim. It’s easy to have an opinion backing it with paper facts or opinions. Live it then see what your opinion is.

  10. Yes, why shouldn’t we add burden to an already overworked underpaid system. To mandate the providing of already free to public information that is readly available to all. This bill would be is a drain on the economy. Don’t want someone to know where you live or work? Move. Then report it to a government facility, because we all know no one will ever get that information…

    While I believe the current system could use some updating, like longer sentences for sex crimes(life without parole, esp. those committed against children) reducing the need for an offenders list. Marcy’s law isn’t the answer.

    Great article Jessica!

  11. The law is too overreaching. One part I read on VictimsRightsGA.com that bothered me was that “To have information or records protected that could be used to locate or harass the victim……”. I was thinking that same information, being “protected”, may also be used to prove the accused is innocent.

  12. “Don’t want someone to know where you live or work? Move.”

    This right here is why!!!! Why the hell does a victim of a crime have to move/change jobs. They are not the criminal. Why the hell would my daughters have to look over their shoulders, if ever, God forbid, they were assaulted. The laws that are in place do not do enough to protect people who have been victims and most is because they are not being enforced as it is. Do something to the system that makes it the responsibility of the state to do so. If the person or persons want to be notified, and they move or get married, make it their responsibility to notify the authorities so they can be reached. Some of that burden is theirs.
    And as far as cost, please!! So much money is being wasted in the governments now doing nothing, lets get what we pay for and make it a have to situation. The Victims need the rights, not the criminals.
    IF YOU DON’T LIKE THE JUSTICE SYSTEM AND THE WAY IT HANDLES CRIMINALS, THEN QUIT BEING A CRIMINAL AND STAY THE HELL OUT OF IT!!!! I voted YES!!!!

  13. I am voting Yes. If you or a loved one becomes a victim you will quickly change your mind. Of that I am sure. This law will not add any extra burden on anyone.

    Its way past time advocacy for victims be strengthened and taken to the next level. The attitude of this entire article is the very reason so many victims never come forward.

    However, the culture of victimization is changing inspite of the norms of disbelief, and dehumanizing efforts, to silence those who have been violated. This is a New Time and Era. Victims and their families are tired of being scared, isolated, and disadvantaged. Human dignity will fight its way out of victimhood and silence. I pray the passing of this bill becomes a tool for just that purpose.

    • I have been a victim, as well as others in my family. We will all be voting NO. This bill changes nothing regarding convictions, sentencing, early release and/or parole. All this does is add another level of bureaucracy to a legal system that already takes too long and costs too much money. We don’t need further delays and more costs added to the process. We also don’t need to assume people are guilty, until proven so. This legislation is simply bad.

  14. Here’s why I’m leaning toward a NO vote in my current level of awareness in this matter:

    An alleged victim is afforded an extra right to:
    (2) refuse to be interviewed or provide pretrial testimony or other evidence requested in behalf of a criminal defendant,

    Any script-flipping liar will almost certainly enjoy this, what will be, an additional privilege while societal safeguards already in practice for over-protecting women will only serve to preclude due process rights for a deliberately maligned accused male. I’m also viewing the TV adverts to be over-sensationalistic in portraying only WOMEN as victims of foul play.

  15. ALLEGED. what if someone alleges that YOU did a thing? Should you be followed for the rest of your life? Guilty BEFORE AND AFTER?

  16. This article may be one of the worst put together articles I have ever read. Your reasons for voting NO are absurd. It will bog down the legal process? Even though you state that the State of Illinois hasn’t seen a slow down with proceedings, just more administrative work. So protecting someone’s rights, is wrong, if it means that someone will have to do more paperwork? It will be expensive? So here you basically put a price on human safety. You are a woman who has clearly never been a victim of anything before in your life. Victims deserve MORE rights than that of their perpetrators. Period. Point blank. Maybe if the current law you say that already exists did it job, this constitutional amendment wouldn’t have to be put in place.

    • I agree that most of the reasons that she gave do not really matter, but there is one MAJOR reason. The wording “alleged” is terrifying to me! By putting “alleged” in the wording instead of “convected” we are going down a slippery slope with due process. Innocent until proven guilty is not something anyone should take for granted. Many people have been falsely accused of crimes, but could you imagine if you were “guilty until proven innocent”. If accused of a crime you could end up spending years in prison waiting to “prove” your innocence. Imagine being innocent of a crime and spending 2 years in jail waiting for your trial, just because Marsy’s law gave the victim more rights than the “alleged” criminal.

  17. I have researched this law as a GA resident have been on the fence. On one hand, the part of the “accused vs. convicted” has me voting NO – given how unfairly Kavanaugh was treated by his accuser. However, I feel that a victim of a crime cannot have too many rights. I am leaning towards a YES vote today after reading in this article that the ACLU does not support this amendment. The current state of the ACLU and it’s leadership is completely out of touch.

  18. I Will Absolutely Be Voting ‘YES’ On This Amenment!
    Your liberal snowflake approach has no affect on any true Patriotic U.S.A. Citizen!
    WE, THE PEOPLE Literally Abhor The ACLU!!!

    • Freaky! I was ubder the impression that a true, constitutional, conservative would abhor the infringement of due process.

    • Liberal Snowflake ? You do know this is a liberal amendment from the left cost taking away rights of someone “accused” of a crime. Georgia already has Laws to protect victims.
      The Georgia Crime Victims Bill of Rights, O.C.G.A. 17-17-1, et seq., provides individuals who are victims of certain crimes specific rights. These rights include:
      The right to reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of any scheduled court proceedings or any changes to such proceedings;
      The right to reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of the arrest, release, or escape of the accused;
      The right not to be excluded from any scheduled court proceedings, except as provided by law;
      The right to be heard at any scheduled court proceedings involving the release, plea, or sentencing of the accused;
      The right to file a written objection in any parole proceedings involving the accused;
      The right to confer with the prosecuting attorney in any criminal prosecution related to the victim;
      The right to restitution as provided by law;
      The right to proceedings free from unreasonable delay; and
      The right to be treated fairly and with dignity by all criminal justice agencies involved in the case.

      The Crime Victims Bill of Rights specifically applies to victims of the following crimes:
      Homicide
      Assault and Battery
      Kidnapping, False Imprisonment and related offenses
      Reckless Conduct
      Cruelty to Children
      Feticide
      Stalking/Aggravated Stalking
      Cruelty to a Person 65 Years of Age or Older
      All Sexual Offenses
      Burglary
      Arson, Bombs and Explosives
      Theft
      Robbery
      Forgery, Deposit Account Fraud, Illegal Use of Financial Transaction Cards, Other Fraud Related Offenses, Computer Crimes, & Identity Theft
      Sale or Distribution of Harmful Materials to Minors
      Elder Abuse
      Homicide by Vehicle
      Feticide by Vehicle
      Serious Injury by Vehicle

      In general, after the crime occurs and is reported, and upon initial contact with a victim, law enforcement and court personnel must advise him or her of the following:
      That it is possible that the accused may be released from custody prior to trial;
      That victims have certain rights during various stages of the criminal justice system;
      That victims have the right to refuse or agree to be interviewed by the accused, the accused’s attorney, or anyone who represents or contacts you on behalf of the accused;
      That additional information about these stages can be obtained by contacting the pertinent state and/or local agency involved, or by contacting the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council at 404-657-1956;
      That victims may be eligible for monetary compensation for certain out-of-pocket losses incurred as a result of their victimization from the Georgia Crime Victims Compensation Program administered by the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council at 404-657-2222 or 1-800-547-0060;
      That victims may have available to them community-based victim service programs and that more information may be obtained by contacting the Georgia Call Line at 1-800-GEORGIA (1-800-436-7442) to connect to other services.

  19. I will vote yes. Gwinnett Co. is the only county in Ga. where victims are notified. All counties should notify victims of the release. It should not cost that much to notify a victim.

    • It is state law already, All counties are required to notify Victims under the Crime Victim Bill of Rights.
      The Georgia Crime Victims Bill of Rights, O.C.G.A. 17-17-1, et seq., provides individuals who are victims of certain crimes specific rights. These rights include:
      The right to reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of any scheduled court proceedings or any changes to such proceedings;
      The right to reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of the arrest, release, or escape of the accused;
      The right not to be excluded from any scheduled court proceedings, except as provided by law;
      The right to be heard at any scheduled court proceedings involving the release, plea, or sentencing of the accused;
      The right to file a written objection in any parole proceedings involving the accused;
      The right to confer with the prosecuting attorney in any criminal prosecution related to the victim;
      The right to restitution as provided by law;
      The right to proceedings free from unreasonable delay; and
      The right to be treated fairly and with dignity by all criminal justice agencies involved in the case.

      The Crime Victims Bill of Rights specifically applies to victims of the following crimes:
      Homicide
      Assault and Battery
      Kidnapping, False Imprisonment and related offenses
      Reckless Conduct
      Cruelty to Children
      Feticide
      Stalking/Aggravated Stalking
      Cruelty to a Person 65 Years of Age or Older
      All Sexual Offenses
      Burglary
      Arson, Bombs and Explosives
      Theft
      Robbery
      Forgery, Deposit Account Fraud, Illegal Use of Financial Transaction Cards, Other Fraud Related Offenses, Computer Crimes, & Identity Theft
      Sale or Distribution of Harmful Materials to Minors
      Elder Abuse
      Homicide by Vehicle
      Feticide by Vehicle
      Serious Injury by Vehicle

      In general, after the crime occurs and is reported, and upon initial contact with a victim, law enforcement and court personnel must advise him or her of the following:
      That it is possible that the accused may be released from custody prior to trial;
      That victims have certain rights during various stages of the criminal justice system;
      That victims have the right to refuse or agree to be interviewed by the accused, the accused’s attorney, or anyone who represents or contacts you on behalf of the accused;
      That additional information about these stages can be obtained by contacting the pertinent state and/or local agency involved, or by contacting the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council at 404-657-1956;
      That victims may be eligible for monetary compensation for certain out-of-pocket losses incurred as a result of their victimization from the Georgia Crime Victims Compensation Program administered by the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council at 404-657-2222 or 1-800-547-0060;
      That victims may have available to them community-based victim service programs and that more information may be obtained by contacting the Georgia Call Line at 1-800-GEORGIA (1-800-436-7442) to connect to other services.
      ights !

  20. As the victim of a horrendous crime in my home four days after my husband was laid to rest in 2015, I will be voting YES. Until you have had a loaded rifle pointed at you and this evil person yelling for you to get down get down that had broken into my basement in Gilmer county , just maybe you will have second thoughts and Vote YES. I ill say that the Victim Advocate has been very informative and helpful with this matter. The person is in prison for a long time and I believe in second chances, but his will be in 2025 when he gets his and probation until 2025. This has been a nightmare for me, as I had to sell my home and take a loss and had no time to grieve.

    • Sorry for what you went through but there is already Victims right under Georgia Law. This Takes away rights of a person “accused”, not convicted. I was an Officer for 29 years and I will vote no.
      The Georgia Crime Victims Bill of Rights, O.C.G.A. 17-17-1, et seq., provides individuals who are victims of certain crimes specific rights. These rights include:
      The right to reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of any scheduled court proceedings or any changes to such proceedings;
      The right to reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of the arrest, release, or escape of the accused;
      The right not to be excluded from any scheduled court proceedings, except as provided by law;
      The right to be heard at any scheduled court proceedings involving the release, plea, or sentencing of the accused;
      The right to file a written objection in any parole proceedings involving the accused;
      The right to confer with the prosecuting attorney in any criminal prosecution related to the victim;
      The right to restitution as provided by law;
      The right to proceedings free from unreasonable delay; and
      The right to be treated fairly and with dignity by all criminal justice agencies involved in the case.

      The Crime Victims Bill of Rights specifically applies to victims of the following crimes:
      Homicide
      Assault and Battery
      Kidnapping, False Imprisonment and related offenses
      Reckless Conduct
      Cruelty to Children
      Feticide
      Stalking/Aggravated Stalking
      Cruelty to a Person 65 Years of Age or Older
      All Sexual Offenses
      Burglary
      Arson, Bombs and Explosives
      Theft
      Robbery
      Forgery, Deposit Account Fraud, Illegal Use of Financial Transaction Cards, Other Fraud Related Offenses, Computer Crimes, & Identity Theft
      Sale or Distribution of Harmful Materials to Minors
      Elder Abuse
      Homicide by Vehicle
      Feticide by Vehicle
      Serious Injury by Vehicle

      In general, after the crime occurs and is reported, and upon initial contact with a victim, law enforcement and court personnel must advise him or her of the following:
      That it is possible that the accused may be released from custody prior to trial;
      That victims have certain rights during various stages of the criminal justice system;
      That victims have the right to refuse or agree to be interviewed by the accused, the accused’s attorney, or anyone who represents or contacts you on behalf of the accused;
      That additional information about these stages can be obtained by contacting the pertinent state and/or local agency involved, or by contacting the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council at 404-657-1956;
      That victims may be eligible for monetary compensation for certain out-of-pocket losses incurred as a result of their victimization from the Georgia Crime Victims Compensation Program administered by the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council at 404-657-2222 or 1-800-547-0060;
      That victims may have available to them community-based victim service programs and that more information may be obtained by contacting the Georgia Call Line at 1-800-GEORGIA (1-800-436-7442) to connect to other services.

  21. Total misconception. I will address all your points here:

    1. “Alleged perps” vs those “convicted” – all Marsy’s Law is enforcing is that victims and victims families be treated with courtesy & fairness throughout the judicial proceedings. Victims have the right to know if the accused has been released from jail, when bond hearings are held, etc. Even worse, has a plea been bargained? Victims want the chance to voice their opinion to the prosecutor regarding a plea deal. Essentially – DON’T LEAVE VICTIMS IN THE DARK on the proceedings and status of the case. The victims knowing this information does not interfere with any conviction – as a conviction would have be delivered in a trial by jury. And only 98% of crimes go to trial. Therefore, the rest are plea’d out or dismissed. Marsy’s Law is stating that victims have the right to know about a plea deal and have the right to voice their opinion to the prosecutor.
    2. It’s NOT state law. It is a statute. Therefore, the guidelines surrounding victims rights do NOT have to be followed or enforced.
    3. It doesn’t bog down the legal system. In most cases, it’s a simple letter that’s printed off and mailed out by the clerk. Again, Marsy’s Law is just providing victims with information.
    4. ALCU and (most) lawyers will oppose Marsy’s law. State prosecutors just want to move cases along. Get things off their desks. This involves plea deals. Meaning it would require them to consult with victims and victims families about any and all proceedings. You would think prosecutors would want to involve victims and families of victims during proceedings – but it just makes their job “harder” Also, defense attorneys don’t want victims and victims families at bond hearings, pre-trials or trials. If the rights (as indicated in the Marsy’s Law website) aren’t followed by the state under the GA Constitution – if a perp is released without notification to the victim that victim can take action against the court. With that said, of course ALCU would say its bad for the constitution. Basically they don’t want to “deal” with victims.
    5. “Its expensive” – BUT “Georgia has not released any documentation on the financial impact” – so there is that.
    6. In NO way does a victim of crime have more rights than the accused. The accused gets all the information regarding bond hearings, court proceedings, plea deals, etc – why shouldn’t victims?
    7. My brother was murdered and my family was treated horribly by the court system. I would work to raise millions of dollars too to make sure NO ONE has to endure the torture of not knowing ANYTHING in the proceedings of the court. Remember, many of these victims I am referring to are dead and have NO voice. The only people left fighting are the families.
    8. The ads should invoke some fear – ANYONE could be in this situation. We need Georgia to enforce victims rights as an amendment. Every victim has the right to KNOW.

  22. You lost me at the first sentence – that you plan on voting no tonall amendments. Amendment one is a good thing… it has broad bipartisan support and continues the efforts to protect our natural habitats. It doesn’t pull resources out of tax coffers and it’s even supported by the businesses it would tax. Sorry but I don’t trust your opinion on this matter since you’re clearly off target in that one.

    • David – Many people think that protecting natural habitats is automatically a great thing and that it doesn’t affect the tax coffers. Perhaps you should know that all land that is classified as a conservation easement is exempt from property taxes – which DOES affect the tax coffers in this state by MILLIONS of dollars!

      • While it does affect tax coffers, land that is classified as conservation easement is in no way EXEMPT from property tax, due to this classification. Tax credits on income tax or reduced assessments according to the county it’s located in and the type of easement/covenant it is, yes. Not exempt and yes you’re still looking at millions of dollars discounted.

  23. IMO, I think it should be innocent UNLESS or UNLESS & UNTIL proven guilty. To me, saying UNTIL implies that they are guilty but it’s a question of time before it might be proven.

  24. As a pharmacist ,I had never felt threatened at my job until I was robbed by a 21 year old on August 25th 2006 . Cobb County let this young man out on bail without notifying me and I still worked at the same place where he changed my life forever . Who was looking out for me ???
    Vote YES !!!

  25. Excellent article, I was considering leaning towards voting no already for a lot of the same reasons but you convinced me. I am curious why you plan on voting no for all the other amendments though!

  26. So if it is already law, as you state, then there would be no increase of cost, no increase of paperwork, and would effectively have no change to the current state of affairs. The only thing that would be valid from your argument is that it would be part of the Constitution and harder for lawmakers to get rid of with out the peoples voting, and that is a good thing. The reason it has to be worded for alleged crimes is because until it goes to court it is alleged. The protections would only continue in the case of an guilty verdict, and in the case of a false accusation those protections would then be transferred to the falsely accused. And the ones opposing these amendments are billionaire funded groups that are always standing against law enforcement.

  27. Seems like GA Victims Bill of Rights covers a lot of this. I was a victim of a crime and I was notified of every step in the process.

  28. As the grandparent of a child who was molested at the age of four by her mother and mother’s boyfriend, I am angry at the reasoning behind this woman’s reasons for voting no.

    1. Has she ever EVER sat in a courtroom during a motion for bond for the man who molested your four-year-old granddaughter? Doubtful. Probably doubtful she has ever been victimized in such a horrific manner at all in her life. During a motion hearing, the victim has NO voice. None. They have to sit there and listen to the whining and crying of a defendant who is in jail and is upset because he is being bullied in jail, it’s too stressful, and he is depressed and cannot deal with it daily. Meanwhile, he is worried about his sentence of only year while my granddaughter suffers the rest of the life with the sentence her mother and boyfriend handed down to her.

    So as to #1 on her reasons why to vote no, it should deal with those not yet convicted of a crime because before then there is no voice by victims. You sit there with duct tape on your mouth and cannot even say a thing in regards to anything at all where the victim is concerned. How is this right where at this phase of the process, a defendant has more rights than a victim?

    2. Opting in to the notification process is not enough. When she says the amendment is “technically” (insert air quotation marks here) is a part of the law already, well that’s like saying “maybe, kinda, sort of” and if it were already there why would there be this proposed law? She is wrong when she says that victims have the right to be involved in the proceedings as much as they choose, if that were true, they would have a voice before trial or plea. They don’t. They can receive notice of when the accused is scheduled for court, THAT’S IT!

    3. Bot down the legal process? Are you telling me that being able to be the voice for my four-year-old granddaughter during the process is not worth the time and effort, save the bogging down of the legal process? I don’t care a flying flip if there is an increase of administrative assistants, court clerks, assistant district attorneys, judges, or victim advocates. A life is worth it, and justice should be given to all victims regardless of the “burden” to the process or hiring of more administrative staff.

    4. Changing the State Constitution is serious business — damn righ tit is, and so is the life of a child, or any other victim. Victims are WORTH IT!

    5. It will be expensive? Well maybe so, but so is a lifetime of counseling for victims to which the families and victims are left to burden. So what? Priorities.

    6. It makes some people more equal under the law than others? As it currently stands, defendants have more rights than victims. It is already where it makes defendants more equal than victims. What’s your point?

    7. You say the group pushing Marsy’s Law is well-funded? Well I hope they are because when you have people like this woman who sit there and criticize the proposed change, taking use of their platform to shoot down something to which they have never personally experienced, damn right I hope they are well funded.

    8. Television and social media ads tugging the heart strings of Georgia. Well maybe I should post a picture of my granddaughter at four years old and let that tug at your heartstrings. It should break your heart not just tug.

    Victims do not have equal rights under the due process. This is not about the Constitution, but making sure they have a voice in it all.

    By this law, it makes those in charge of notification of victims actually responsible and accountable. Right now there are victim advocates that are supposed to do this but there is no accountability. I cannot tell you the number of times I have gotten notice the morning of a hearing that was to take place. The MORNING OF. I have had to call to the county where this took place on a regular basis and keep tabs on it myself. I’ve called the clerk’s office and asked, “can you tell me the motion that is to be heard?”, only to receive the answer no we don’t know, when in fact, the motion has to be filed with them to be placed on a court calendar.

    I’m no stranger to the system. I have worked in the legal field for 30+ years from the District Attorney’s office, to private legal practice, to working for the judiciary. I know how this happens. I know how this works and I have seen the inefficiency that has resulted.

    Voting NO for this proposed law is saying to my granddaughter, we don’t care about you, we care about the defendant only. So, Jessica Szilagyi, walk in the lives of those who transport a victim to counseling, listen to the forensic interview where a child tells how a child molester touched her, hear her ask questions because she doesn’t understand why this happened to her–and THEN can you fully understand. Shame on you. Shame on your for using your forum in this way.

  29. Marsy’s is a shameful law, because it is a law that forces us to recognize the dignity of those the Constitution was designed to originally protect. It was placed on the ballot as “ hush crumbs” by legislators tired of being bombarded by crime victims’ complaints. No, there is no way to enforce Marcy’ s Law.
    Even so, critics, like the ACLU, always cite the expense of protecting victims’ rights, but seem to have no problems with the expense of leaving cold bloodied murderers on death row for 30 years of appeals, like Carl Isaacs, who bankrupted Seminole County twice. Although a complete skeptic, and still am, I voted “yes” on Marsy’s Law. I could not live with myself if it was implemented and actually a success.
    The definition of integrity is “doing right when no one is looking”. In our concious, we can always conjure up reasons to convince ourselves that doing right can sometimes be wrong.
    Many of those people and organizations cited in opposition to Marsy’s Law have consistently, and openly, opposed victim rights. A bad tree cannot produce good fruit. Shame on anyone who listened to these people, convincing themselves, to vote “no” on Marcy’s Law. No small wonder crime victims have to cry out.

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