Right of a Victim to be Notified Regarding a Criminal Case

As North Carolinians learn more about the need for stronger victims’ rights in our state, it’s important to convey how House Bill 551, also known as Marsy’s Law, will help ease the burden currently placed on victims.

Marsy’s Law is a constitutional amendment that will strengthen victims’ rights in North Carolina by providing guaranteed constitutional rights to victims in a number of important ways.  Among the steps, Marsy’s Law will take on behalf of victims is the right of proper notification regarding proceedings and major developments in a criminal case involving their crime.

This proactive measure seems like an obvious step on behalf of victims, but it does not always occur. Court systems are often strained by process or new cases during the transition of a crime from local law enforcement to the justice system, and as a result, victims are unfortunately not always kept in the loop regarding the status of their case.

Victim advocate groups often speak of the concept of “re-victimization” during the criminal process. That doesn’t mean the physical harm reoccurs, it simply means the trauma resulting from the original crime continues as they have to relive what happened and advocate for themselves to keep informed on basic matters. Sometimes it’s as simple as even knowing where the accused is being held in custody that is a critical piece of information for victims.

The layers of victimization run deep and Marsy’s Law legislation is intended to ease the unique pressure that being a victim holds. Keeping victims informed of a process that they would otherwise not know is a basic step to provide them a small comfort like peace of mind – where it currently is not guaranteed.

North Carolina’s victims deserve this guarantee by constitutional law – it’s time to prioritize them with this important bipartisan legislation to strengthen victims’ rights.