Marsy’s Law For NC: Informing Victims About Their Rights

Try to put yourself in the shoes of a recent victim for a moment – think of what he or she has to deal with following a crime. Not only are victims reeling from what are often violent crimes committed against them, or their family members, but after the event, they are left dealing with an overwhelming aftermath including pain – both emotional and physical- and many added burdens. Sadly, their suffering is only beginning when the crime occurs.

While there is not a way to completely stop crime from happening in the first place, there are steps society can take to ease the load on the innocent party. Marsy’s Law, a constitutional amendment to strengthen victims’ rights in North Carolina, helps by strengthening rights for crime victims in a number of important ways.

One way is by informing victims and their families about their rights.  Consider this: as a recent survivor of crime, how do you move forward in the hours, days, and weeks after the crime is committed? Remember that victims aren’t planning for a crime to occur – it’s outside of their realm of control, being pushed on them unexpectedly. Of course there is no immediate knowledge of their rights afforded by the law.

How difficult is it for victims and their families to begin to pick up the pieces after a crime against them – trying to go back to work, grocery shop or schedule a series of medical appointments stemming from the crime itself? At the same time, the accused is cycling through the justice system – possibly having initial court appearances, being assigned to a jail and getting attorneys or trial dates scheduled. Is it realistic that a victim has to figure out how to personally move forward while understanding and monitoring the complexities of a justice system suddenly thrust on them? 

Marsy’s Law takes a step to ease this significant burden on victims and their families by informing them – soon after a crime occurs – about their rights and the services available to them after the crime. Working with local law enforcement and court system personnel, victims are informed what their rights are by law. It’s a simple gesture that starts the unwanted process of victimization with a touch of dignity owed to victims – so that they don’t have to search for this basic right at the very moment they’re trying to get back on their feet.