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Marsy’s Law Update

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Feb 20, 2022 | 0 Comments

Marsy's Law is a law that originated in California and has since been adopted in numerous states. Advocates of Marsy's Law seek to provide victims of crimes with rights equal to those accused of committing the crime. At first glance, it's hard for anyone to advocate against Marsy's Law—most of us are in favor of victim protections. When taking a closer look, though, Marsy's Law raises serious constitutional issues that can't be ignored.

One of the biggest concerns raised by Marsy's Law is whether it violates due process rights and a defendant's right to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. Marsy's Law defines the term “victim” broadly, and it includes people who may not have directly suffered as a result of the crime. It also designates someone as a victim as soon as the alleged crime occurs. One huge issue is designating someone as a victim before evidence has been sufficiently produced to confirm a crime has even happened. Doing so arguably negates the defendant's constitutional right of innocent until proven guilty.

Although PA voters are in favor of Marsy's Law, the constitutionality of the law has been in litigation for the past few years.

What Is Happening With Marsy's Law in Pennsylvania?

Not long ago, we discussed Marsy's Law in a blog post. At that time, the Pennsylvania Court of Appeals had ruled against Marsy's Law on somewhat of a technicality. Though Marsy's Law was supported by 75% of voters, it had been voted on in a manner that violated state election law.

In late 2021, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ultimately ruled that Marsy's Law, as written, is not constitutional. The reason for the high court's ruling isn't based on due process or innocent until proven guilty rights, though. Instead, Marsy's Law violates the Pennsylvania Constitution insofar as it seeks to make multiple amendments to the state Constitution instead of just one. For now, Marsy's Law won't take effect in Pennsylvania. Still, with 75% of voters in favor of Marsy's Law, the multiple issues contained in it could be separated out and voted on individually.

Voters should beware of Marsy's Law, however. In addition to the issues of due process and a person's right to the presumption of innocence, until they are proven guilty in a court of law, Marsy's Law is vague and somewhat redundant. For example, Pennsylvania has already enacted a set of victim's rights into law under the Crime Victim Act, and there exist within the state agencies an Office of Victim Advocate. Marsy's Law could do more harm than good—after all, when a law strips away an individual's protections under the U.S. Constitution, it only creates more victims.

Talk to PA Defense Attorney Joseph D. Lento

If you or someone you love is facing criminal charges, you need to speak with a criminal defense lawyer who understands your constitutional rights and will fight tirelessly to protect you. Attorney Joseph D. Lento believes in every person's right to a strong defense. To learn how the Lento Law Firm can help you, call 888-535-3686 today.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania as well as in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!

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Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the Lento Law Firm today! Criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

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