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Lawsuit Challenges ‘Marsy’s Law’ Inclusion on Florida Ballot


Recently, the Pensacola News Journal reported that a lawsuit has been violated challenging the inclusion of ‘Marsy’s Law’ on this November’s Florida state ballot. This is a controversial ballot initiative that is sometimes referred to as the ‘Victims’ Bill of Rights Act’ by its supporters. In this article, our experienced Miami criminal lawyers provide an overview of what ‘Marsy’s Law’ actually is, discuss why it is controversial and is now facing legal action, and explain what will happen next.

What is Marsy’s Law?

Marsy’s Law originates out of the state of California. In 2008, California voters amended their state’s constitution in order to expand the legal rights of crime victims and modify the judicial process. Notably, this law actually refers to a wide range of different things. For that reason, it can be somewhat difficult to pinpoint. On one end of the spectrum it gives crime victims additional legal standing to seek financial restitution. On the other end of the spectrum, it materially reduces the length of the appeals process and the opportunity for some defendants to obtain parole. A version of Marsy’s Law is now being pushed and adopted in many other states across the country, including in Florida. Of course, each state’s version of the law is somewhat different.

Why Does this Ballot Measure Worry Some Criminal Defense Advocates? 

On the surface level, granting additional rights to crime victims seems like a good policy. However, as with most things, the details matter. There are serious concerns that the version of the law that is currently set to appear on Florida’s ballot this fall will severely curtail the rights of defendants in criminal cases.

Earlier this month, a criminal defense lawyer from North Florida filed a lawsuit challenging the inclusion of this ballot initiative. The ballot measure (Amendment 6) is being contested on the grounds that the proposed language is materially misleading. According to the Florida criminal defense lawyer who filed the lawsuit, the language improperly fails to inform voters that the ballot measure will curtail the total time allowed in the criminal appeals process. 

What Will Happen Next?

This lawsuit will now go through the legal process. If it wins on the merits, Marsy’s Law (Amendment 6) could still be removed from the state’s ballot. However, if the lawsuit fails, then the law will go to Florida voters. As this is a ballot initiative that proposes an amendment to the state’s constitution, it must receive support from at least 60 percent of the voters in order to pass. If the Amendment 6 fails to meet the 60 percent threshold, the state’s constitution will not be amended.

Get Help From a Miami Criminal Defense Attorney Today

At Ratzan & Faccidomo, LLC, our skilled criminal law attorneys are committed advocates for defendants. If you or a loved one was arrested and charged with a crime, please do not hesitate to contact us for a free, fully confidential consultation. With an office in Miami, we represent defendants throughout the region, including in Miami Beach, Hialeah, Coral Gables, and University Park.



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