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How advocates say Marsy's Law will put crime victims on equal footing
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Hall County Solicitor General Stephanie Woodard , right, is hugged by Amanda Batchelor Friday, April 13, 2018 as Woodard is honored with the Victims’ Rights Week Award during the Victims' Rights Week Ceremony at the Hall County Sheriff's Office. The annual event honors champions in advocating for expanded support and services to communities affected by crime. - photo by Scott Rogers
Before Georgia’s Crime Victims Bill of Rights was enacted in 1995, there was no requirement for a victim to know the defendant was going to trial. “If the prosecutor wanted to use their testimony, of course they’d be notified because they’d be given a subpoena. But let’s say it was a child victim that they weren’t going to use the children as a witness. The parents might not even be told this case is coming to trial. It was completely optional to the prosecutor whether they did or not,” said Hall County Solicitor General Stephanie Woodard. If Amendment 4, Marsy’s Law, is approved by a majority of voters on Nov. 6, much of the bill of rights will go from being a statutory right to a constitutionally protected right. “Where victim’s rights and defendant’s rights clash, they could be considered on equal footing, as opposed to a statute not being enforced in certain jurisdictions or not considered equal to that of a defendant,” Woodard said. The rights of crime victims in the state constitution would be providing “reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of any scheduled court proceedings involving the alleged act or changes to the scheduling of such proceedings” as well as if the accused is arrested, released or escaped, according to Senate Resolution 146. They would also have the right to not “be excluded from any scheduled court proceedings involving the alleged act” and right to be heard at any proceeding involving release, plea or sentencing.

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