Special thanks to Senator Todd Lakey for his support of Marsy’s Law for Idaho and for taking the time to write the following on the subject of victims’ rights in Idaho.
SJR 102 will make important amendments to the victims’ rights portions of Idaho’s constitution. Particularly, Article 1, Section 2.
A victim is not involved in the criminal justice system as an exercise of their own free will and choice.
Idaho’s constitution has existing protections for victims, but there are some changes that are needed to be made to be sure that they are adequately heard and protected in the justice process. HJR 8 is primarily about the victim being able to have an effective voice in the process. It’s about being able to communicate their perspective throughout the process.
For example, it requires notification be reasonable and timely, Idaho’s constitution currently just says prior. So, as it stands under current statute, notification could be an hour before the applicable hearing or an hour before the trial. While that is unusual, this law will ensure that notification is reasonable and timely. This joint resolution will also give them the right to be heard at some junctures during the process. These include parole hearings, plea bargaining, post-arrest and post-conviction release proceedings.
This law will allow their voice to be heard at any proceedings that affect their rights as a victim. It also provides reasonable protection from the accused. They don’t have to meet with the accused or talk with the accused or meet with the accused’s attorney if they choose not to. A new aspect allows a victim to communicate through their attorney, a designated representative or the prosecutor. It is often very difficult for a victim to effectively voice their perspective in the same place as the accused when they’ve been through something traumatic. This law allows for them to not only submit it in writing or through the prosecutor but also through a designated representative, giving them several alternatives.
Idaho deserves strengthened rights for victims. We urge all Idahoans—no matter your background, location, interests, history or otherwise—to familiarize yourself with this important law and champion it, because anyone can be made a victim.