Oklahoma voters overwhelmingly approved a state question that has been described as a 'bill of rights' for crime victims.
State Question 794, also called Marsy's Law, would expand the rights of crime victims. Among other things, the measure would require that crime victims be notified and heard in most criminal proceedings, grant victims the right to protection and “full and timely” restitution and prohibit “unreasonable delay” of criminal cases.
The law was originally passed in California in 2008 and has been adopted in other states, including Illinois and Ohio. Opponents, including some defense attorneys and prosecutors, say the measure is unnecessary and could divert resources away from law enforcement authorities.
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The question reads as such:This measure amends the provisions of the Oklahoma Constitution that guarantees certain rights for crime victims. These rights would now be protected in a manner equal to the defendant's rights. The measure would also make changes to victim's rights, including:
(1) expanding the court proceedings at which a victim has the right to be heard;
(2) adding a right to reasonable protection;
(3) adding a right to proceedings free from unreasonable delay;
(4) adding a right to talk with the prosecutor; and
(5) allowing victims to refuse interview requests from the defendant's attorney without a subpoena.
The Oklahoma Constitution currently grants victims' rights to crime victims and their family members. This measure would instead grant these rights to crime victims and those directly harmed by the crime. Victims would no longer have a constitutional right to know the defendant's location following arrest, during prosecution, and while sentenced to confinement or probation, but would have the right to be notified of the defendant's release or escape from custody.
Under this measure, victims would have these rights in both adult and juvenile proceedings. Victims would be able to assert these rights in court, and the court would be required to act promptly.