First DCA sheds light on the impact of Marsy’s Law in criminal cases

May 6, 2020

The 1st DCA recently held that the amendments to Marsy’s Law do not make a victim a party to a criminal case. L.T. V. State,_So.3d_, 45 F.L.W. D927 (1st DCA 4/17/2020).  In L.T., an attorney filed a Notice of Appearance and requested copies of all pleadings in the case. The trial court struck the Notice of Appearance and the victim sought a writ of prohibition. In denying the writ of prohibition, the 1st DCA found that the changes in the amendments were directory and also stated that the victim has the standing to appear but does not entitle the victim to file a Notice of Appearance or any other pleadings. Up until this opinion, there was no clarity as to what the amendments meant or how they would impact criminal cases and the criminal procedure. In making its determination the 2nd DCA made it clear that the victim is entitled to meaningful participation in the proceedings just not as a party of record. The court emphasized that: “Finding no explicit language in Marsy’s Law which grants to a victim the specific right to party status and all related privileges, we find no clear violation of established law. This opinion should not be misconstrued as declaring that Marsy’s Law does not support a victim’s filing of some form of notice of election to exercise rights or of legal representation in a criminal proceeding. We conclude only that under these facts, the trial court’s order striking L.T.’s Notices of Appearance and denying the discovery motions which demanded specific party status rights and privileges did not depart from clearly established principles of law.” The 2nd DCA made it clear that if the changes were meant to fundamentally alter the well-established criminal procedure that it would be up to the Legislature to craft those directives and disseminate them for purposes of enforcement.

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