Most people are familiar with Miranda Rights — the rights police read to those placed under arrest. And, most people are aware that there are federal and state laws designed to protect the accused and those convicted so criminals receive fair treatment. What most people don't know is there are no U.S. Constitutional protections for victims.
Florida doesn't have much in its laws to protect victims, either. That's just not right. For justice to be truly served, it must be equal. Defendants are absolutely entitled to all their rights and protections. But, victims should have as many rights and protections as the accused and convicted too.
In November, we can correct this imbalance in the criminal justice system by voting in favor of Amendment 6, also known as Marsy's Law for Florida.
Marsy's Law doesn't take anything away from defendants. It simply gives basic, common-sense rights to victims and their families and protects those rights in the Florida Constitution. These rights include the right to have standing in court; the right to protect records that could be used to locate and harass the victim and their family; the right to be present at all proceedings involving the case; the right to be heard at court proceedings; the right to receive timely notice of the outcome of the case; and, the right to restitution.
By putting these victim's rights in the state Constitution, there will be no question on what victims of crime are entitled to. Thirty-two states already have Marsy's law in their state constitutions.
Law enforcement leaders and state attorneys across Florida agree: We need Marsy's Law for Florida. I stand with nearly two-thirds of Florida's sheriffs in support of Amendment 6.
In my more than 40 years of working in public safety, I have had the honor of serving and protecting my community. I was driven to this profession by a desire to keep people safe and help them when they have been harmed. As law enforcement officers, we are often the first on the scene of a crime and the first people victims encounter. We do all we can to help and support them during this critical time in their life, but once the case is in the courts, they have very few legal rights to protect them.
I know this first hand. Many years ago I was shot on duty and became a "victim" of a serious crime. I had to go through depositions and a trial where it seemed like the defendant had more rights than I did as the victim.
I hope you will join me in November and vote "yes" on Amendment 6 and let's protect victims' rights together!
For more information, visit www.marsyslawforfl.com.
Rick Staly is the sheriff of Flagler County.