Victims Deserve Input

Believe it or not, there are those who are opposed to giving victims the opportunity to be heard in court procedures because they worry it may potentially slow down the process of the court system. While it’s a valid concern that courts – particularly on the state and local levels – are doing more with less, it’s hard to believe that victims and their rights are considered expendable to the process.

When a victim, or his or her family, wishes to be part of the process of justice, common sense tells us they should be allowed. Telling their story about the crime or voicing concerns about conditions of release are all reasonable expectations that North Carolina’s victims should be guaranteed.

The reality is that, in most cases, victims are an essential part of the court process – often as key witnesses of the crime. Most District Attorneys work with victims and their families quickly and throughout the court process for testimony to ensure that justice gets served. And experience in other states and research suggests that these extra steps on behalf of victims will impact the actual court process very little – if at all.

Victims, who have to proactively opt-into these rights, may actually only be heard briefly in a hearing when considering terms and conditions of a release. It’s a small role in the overall criminal process to give a victim the right to give input. But this is not currently law in North Carolina, and victims who wish to give input before something as critical as a plea deal is finalized is not a guarantee.

Marsy’s Law for North Carolina will mean that victims are guaranteed the right to provide this critical input before a plea agreement is finalized, regardless of the region or county the crime took place. It is a right that North Carolina victims of crime deserve – input before their attacker is tried or is released from custody.