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Will the Constitution of Georgia be amended to include Victims' Bill of Rights?

Back in 2008, voters in California approved an amendment to their state constitution, known as Marsy's Law, which essentially codified who can be classified as a crime victim and the rights these people have in dealing with those by whom they were victimized.

Marsy's Law has gained considerable support across the nations since its adoption in the Golden State eight years ago. Indeed, seven states -- including Georgia -- are currently considering adopting some version of it.

Indeed, a measure has been introduced in the Georgia General Assembly -- House Resolution 1199 -- that would amend the state's Constitution to provide crime victims with the following rights:

  • The right to timely notice concerning any hearings concerning the defendant
  • The right to be heard prior to the making of any decision relating to pleas, sentencing or parole of the defendant
  • The right to be notified if the defendant escapes or is released

It's important to note that since House Resolution 1199 is proposing a constitutional amendment, the legislative process is a bit different.

The measure would first need to be approved by two-thirds of both the state Senate and the state House. If this happens, it would then be placed on the November 2016 ballot with the decision whether to amend the state Constitution ultimately left up to the voters.

Furthermore, it should be noted that these same rights currently exist under state law entirely separate from the state Constitution. Specifically, the state introduced the Crime Victims' Bill of Rights back in 1995.

Interestingly enough, while the resolution has considerable support, it also has a fair number of opponents.

Some of these include county prosecutors who have made the argument that moving the Crime Victims' Bill of Rights into the state Constitution would mean that the language, which has been amended nine times since its introduction, would become that much harder to strengthen via changes. That's because it would be necessary to introduce entirely new constitutional amendments and ballot initiatives.

What are your thoughts on this issue?

If you are under investigation or have been arrested for any sort of criminal offense, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional as soon as possible.

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