In an overwhelming victory for victims’ rights, 75 percent of Wisconsin residents cast votes in favor of the proposed crime victims’ constitutional amendment commonly known as Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin. Over 1.1 million Wisconsin residents cast votes in favor of the measure, which passed with a vast margin of more than 700,000 votes.
The bipartisan victims’ rights amendment was approved in 2019 for placement on the April 2020 ballot after passing the Wisconsin State Senate and Assembly with broad bipartisan support in two consecutive legislative sessions. The overwhelming ratification vote marked the final procedural step for the now approved constitutional amendment.
Marsy’s Law updates the 1993 victims’ rights constitutional amendment by giving victims new rights and strengthening existing ones. Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin also gives crime victims the Constitutional right to enforce their rights in a court of law if they have been infringed upon during the criminal justice process. Marsy's Law would not take away any rights from the accused or hinder the criminal justice process in any way, as stated in the bill language below.
Read the full text of the approved Wisconsin Victims of Crime Amendment:
In order to preserve and protect victims’ rights to justice and due process throughout the criminal and juvenile justice process, victims shall be entitled to all of the following rights which shall vest at the time of victimization and be protected by law in a manner no less vigorous than the protections afforded to the accused:
a) To be treated with dignity, respect, courtesy, sensitivity and fairness
b) to privacy
c) to proceedings free from unreasonable delay
d) to timely disposition of the case free from unreasonable delay
e) upon request, to attend all proceedings involving the case
f) to reasonable protection from the accused throughout the criminal and juvenile justice process
g) upon request, to reasonable and timely notification of proceedings
h) upon request, to confer with the attorney for the government
i) upon request, to be heard in any proceeding during which a right of the victim is implicated including release, plea, sentencing, disposition, parole, revocation, expungement, or pardon
j) to have information pertaining to the economic, physical and psychological effect of the crime or juvenile offense upon the victim submitted to the authority with jurisdiction over the case and have the information considered by that authority
k) upon request, to timely notice of any release or escape of the accused or death of the accused if the accused is in custody or on supervision at the time of death
l) to refuse an interview, deposition, or other discovery request made by the accused or any person acting on behalf of the accused
m) to full restitution from any person who has been ordered to pay restitution to the victim and to be provided with assistance collecting restitution
n) to compensation as provided by law
o) upon request, to reasonable and timely information about status of the investigation and the outcome of the case
p) to timely notice about all rights in this section and all other rights, privileges or protections of the victim provided by law, including how such rights, privileges or protections are enforced
Except as provided under sub. (2) (n), all provisions of this section are self-executing. The legislature may prescribe further remedies for violations of this section and further procedures for compliance with, enforcement of this section
In this section, notwithstanding any statutory right, privilege, or protection, “victim” means any
of the following:
- Any person against whom an act is committed that would constitute a crime if committed by a competent adult.
- If the person under subd. 1 is deceased or physically or emotionally unable to exercise his or her rights under this section, the person’s spouse, parent or legal guardian, sibling, child, person who resided with the deceased at time of death, or other lawful representative.
- If the person under subd 1 is a minor, the person’s parent, legal guardian or custodian, or other lawful representative.
- If the person under subd, 1 is adjudicated incompetent, the person’s legal guardian or other lawful representative.
“Victim” does not include the accused or a person whom the court finds would not act in the best interests of a victim who is deceased, incompetent, a minor or is physically or emotionally unable to exercise the rights under this section.
In addition to any other available enforcement of rights or remedy for a violation of this section or of other rights, privileges, or protections provided by law, the victim, the victim’s attorney or other lawful representative, or the attorney for the government upon request of the victim may assert and seek in any circuit court or before any other authority of competent jurisdiction, enforcement of the rights in this section and any other right, privilege, or protection afforded to the victim by law. The court or other authority with jurisdiction over the case shall act promptly on such a request and afford a remedy for the violation of any right of the victim. The court or other authority with jurisdiction over the case shall clearly state on the record the reasons for any decision regarding the disposition of a victim’s right and shall provide those reasons to the victim or the victim’s attorney or other lawful representative.
Victims may obtain review of any adverse decision concerning their rights as a victim by courts or other authorities with jurisdiction under par. (a) by filling petitions for supervisory writ in the court of appeals and supreme court.
This section does not create any cause of action for damages against the state; any political subdivision of the state; any officer, employee, or agent of the state or a political subdivision of the state acting in his or her official capacity; or any officer, employee, or agent of the courts acting in his or her official capacity.
This section is not intended and may not be interpreted to supersede a defendant’s federal constitutional rights or to afford party status in a proceeding to any victim.