Amendment 6: Rights of Crime Victims; Judges.

AuthorMartinez, Roberto
PositionThird Florida Constitution Revision Commission Proposals

Amendment 6 comprises three proposals that have to do with the judicial branch, though each is distinct from the others.

Victim's Rights

The first proposal significantly expands victims' rights in the criminal justice system. Currently Fla. Const. art. I, [section]16(b), prescribes the rights of victims:

Victims of crime or their lawful representatives, including the next of kin of homicide victims, are entitled to the right to be informed, to be present, and to be heard when relevant, at all crucial stages of criminal proceedings, to the extent that these rights do not interfere with the constitutional rights of the accused.

If Amendment 6 passes, victims would be afforded the following constitutional rights, some of which are current statutory rights afforded to victims:

* The right to due process and the right to be treated with fairness and respect;

* The right to be free from intimidation, harassment, and abuse;

* The right to be reasonably protected from the accused and anyone acting on behalf of the accused;

* The right to have their welfare and their family's welfare considered when the accused's bail is set, including the right to have courts consider pretrial release conditions that would protect the safety and welfare of the victim and the victim's family;

* The right to prevent the disclosure of information about victims or their families;

* The right to notice and to be informed about all stages of the criminal process regarding the defendant, including trials, pleas, sentencing, adjudication, release, escape, restitution, clemency, expungement, and parole;

* Victims would have the right to be heard at each stage of the defendant's sentencing or potential release and to participate in pre-sentence reports and get copies of those reports;

* The right to prompt return of their property, the right to have the proceedings completed without unreasonable delay, and the right to get full and timely restitution; and

* The right to be informed of these rights and seek the advice of counsel regarding them.

Notably, Fla. Const. art. I, [section]16, currently states victims' rights shall not interfere with the constitutional rights of the accused, but that language would be eliminated under Amendment 6, although the constitutional rights of the accused are still guaranteed by the Fifth and 14th amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

This proposal would also mandate that all state-level appeals and collateral attacks on any judgment be...

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