Crime victims in Ohio now have new constitutionally protected rights thanks to voters and state lawmakers as reported by Statehouse News. And more victims may be eligible for compensation for their losses based on recently revised requirements outlined by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. Importantly applicants who were previously disqualified may refile their application, provided that the date of the underlying crime was no more than 3 years from reapplication.
New law effective April 6
In 2017, Marsy’s Law passed with 83% voter approval. But it needed some legislation to enable its implementation. Ohio lawmakers passed that in 2022.
Rep. Andrea White (R-Kettering) said, “Marsy’s Law ensures that victims of crime and their families are treated with fairness and respect for their safety, dignity and privacy and that they have guaranteed rights on the same level as those who accused and convicted of crimes.”
Marsy’s Law is named after Marsy Nicholas, a native Ohioan, who was killed by her ex-boyfriend in California in 1983. Immediately following her funeral service, while shopping at a grocery store, her family encountered the man who was, at that time, charged with the crime. Marsy’s family did not know he had been released on bail.
Right to be notified of court proceedings
Since then, her family has fought to give crime victims nationwide rights of notification when the person alleged to have committed that crime faces court proceedings. To date, more than a dozen states, including Ohio, have passed the law that gives constitutional rights to crime victims.
Right to be present and heard during proceedings
Marsy’s Law ensures victims are allowed to be present and heard when criminal justice proceedings take place. The new law takes steps to ensure victims are notified of their rights and that courts implement those rules consistently when the victims choose to assert them.
Right to privacy
And it is meant to protect the privacy of victims by allowing them to prevent their names, addresses and identifying information from being released to the public.
Reaction from Ohio Crime Victim Justice Center
The executive director of the center, Cathy Lee Harper, said this new law will allow victims to exercise control over rights that previously were unenforceable. She is grateful for the new changes this law brings, but she urged lawmakers to make one more. Harper said now that crime victims in Ohio now have a right to retain an attorney for their case, state legislators also need to make sure there are funds set aside to help those victims who cannot afford that legal representation.
Victim eligibility changes to compensation program
Victims of crime in Ohio may be eligible for financial compensation. The Crime Victim Compensation Program is a reimbursement program provided by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. Fines collected from offenders are used to reimburse victims of crime who qualify.
As of March 2, 2023, eligibility requirements have been updated as follows:
A claim must be filed within 3 years of the date of the crime on which it is based, unless the claimant is a minor. If the claimant is a minor then he or she has until their 24th birthday to file an application.
Criminal backgrounds are no longer considered disqualifiers.
Possession of a felony drug at the time of the underlying incident is no longer a disqualifier.
Applicants who were previously disqualified based on their criminal background or drug possession may refile their application, provided that the date of the underlying crime was no more than 3 years from reapplication.
Victims eligible to file a claim
These victims include:
Those injured as result of a violent crime
Dependents of homicide victims
Claimants who are responsible for crime victims’ expenses, such as parents or guardians
Victims not eligible to file a claim
These victims include:
Offenders or accomplices of offenders
Victims who have a felony conviction, or a child endangering or domestic violence conviction, within ten years prior to the crime or while the claim is pending
Anyone who engaged in a felony offense of violence or felony drug trafficking, within 10 years prior to the crime or while the claim is pending
Anyone who, at the time of the crime, engaged in felony drug possession
Victims whose crimes are not reported to law enforcement
Victims who do not fully cooperate with law enforcement
Victims who committed criminal or tortious acts that contributed to their injuries.
For information about expenses that may be reimbursed through the Victim Compensation Program and forms to be completed, go here.