Florida Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments In Marsy’s Law Case
According to a report from the Tampa Bay Times, the Florida Supreme Court has heard oral arguments in an unusual case in which the City of Tallahassee is locked in a legal dispute with its own police department. The state’s highest court will decide the future of Marsy’s law—an amendment to the Florida Constitution that provides clear, legally enforceable rights for victims of crime. Here, our Orlando criminal defense lawyers provide an overview of the stakes in this case.
Background: Florida Voters Passed Marsy’s Law in 2018
The first Marsy’s law was enacted in California. It is named after a woman who was tragically murdered in the 1980s by a stalker. In 2018, Florida voters passed Amendment 6 by a more than 20 point margin. The ballot measure amended the state’s constitution to enshrine a crime victim’s bill of rights (Marsy’s Law). Crime victims have a number of rights under the law, including:
- The right to general due process;
- The right to privacy;
- The right to fairness, dignity, and respect;
- The right to testify in certain circumstances; and
- The right to be kept involved in the process by the prosecutor.
The Case: How Far Do Anonymity Protections Go Under Marsy’s Law
A unique Marsy’s law issue is now before the Florida Supreme court. The state’s highest court must determine how far police anonymity can extend under the law. The case is called City of Tallahassee, Florida v. Florida Police Benevolent Association, Inc. The legal matter is related to two separate incidents that occurred within Tallahassee in 2020. Both incidents involve local police officers shooting and killing a suspect.
The Tallahassee Police Department and Florida’s police union have invoked Marsy’s Law. They argue that the officers are victims of crime. As such, they have a right to privacy and their names should not be released to the public. The City of Tallahassee counters that law enforcement officers should be held to a higher level of scrutiny and that they do not fit within the definition of “victim” for the purposes of Marsy’s law—at least not in this circumstance.
What Comes Next: The Decision Will Have Major Implications for Marsy’s Law in Florida
The Florida Supreme Court has already heard oral arguments in the case. A decision is expected sometime in summer of 2023. The court’s decision is likely to have major implications for Marsy’s Law in Florida, particularly as it pertains to police officers claiming “crime victim” status for job-related incidents. Our firm will keep a close watch on any developments in this case.
Speak to Our Florida Criminal Defense Attorney Today
At The Baez Law Firm, our Florida criminal defense lawyers fight to protect the rights and interests of our clients. If you are facing a criminal charge, we can help. Contact our criminal defense law firm today to set up your fully confidential case review. From our offices in Miami and Orlando, we provide justice-focused criminal defense representation throughout all of Florida.