#Decision2018: Crime victims will get more rights in Georgia
Amendment 4 in Georgia passed yesterday in the midterm election.
The amendment had more than 80 percent approval.
This law will change the Georgia Constitution to give more rights to crime victims.
The hope is to eventually add it to the United States Constitution.
The amendment, known as Marsy’s Law, is designed to help victims stay aware of what is going on with the case they are involved in, and gives them the right to be included in every court proceeding.
“It's a very emotional time, if your brother, your sister your mother or father gets killed, or raped,” said Jerry Summers.
In 1983, Marsy Nicholas was killed by her ex-boyfriend, and a week later her parents ran into the accused murderer in the grocery store.
The Nicholas family had no idea the man was out on bail.
At that time, victims had no rights in the courtroom.
“It was discretionary for the courts as to whether the victim could testify,” said Summers. “Most of the time, the courts did not allow it.”
That's when the Nicholas family began advocating for crime victim rights.
“Be free from intimidation, or bullying, be present at any proceedings where the defendant will testify, the right to be heard during the proceedings, and informed about what's going on,” said Summers.
Attorney Jerry Summers says this could put more pressure on judges and prosecutors to have a more harsh sentence.
He says social media can impact the election for those who rely on voter support.
“The victims’ families are very good about writing letters saying judge so-and-so gave this defense a very light sentence, and he's soft on crime,” said Summers.
This law is set to go into effect January first.
Tennessee has a similar law.
In 1998 Tennessee adopted the Victim’s Bill Of Rights, Georgia had a similar bill, but now they have passed Marsy's law.
North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Kentucky also passed the same amendment, this year.
This amendment will need two-thirds state support in order to pass make the change to the United States Constitution.
So far it has passed in nine states.