On November 6, 2018, Oklahomans will vote on State Question 794 to expand rights for victims of crime.
What does it specifically change?
It amends the Oklahoma Constitution to guarantee certain rights for victims, survivors, and their families or guardians. Currently, there are only statutory rights, which are insufficient and illusory because they are not enforced and can be changed by simple majorities. Victims deserve to have constitutional protections, just as those who are accused and convicted.
The language was carefully crafted to ensure it meets Constitutional standing in Oklahoma. Victims’ rights would be protected in a manner equal to the rights of the defendants, but it does not impact or change the existing defendants’ rights.
How does it expand rights?
If 794 passes, there will be a requirement to notify victims and families that they have Constitutionally protected rights. They will be notified at each important stage of the criminal justice process: arrest, bonding, trial, and sentencing. They would also be notified of the defendant’s release or escape from custody, and be consulted with before a decision is made concerning a plea agreement, deferred prosecution agreement or diversion agreement.
It also provides victims the right to reasonable protection by ensuring their right to privacy and provides the right to proceedings free from unreasonable delays.
Finally, it includes the right to restitution, and a clause on enforceability, so that if a victim of crime feels that any of their rights have been violated, they will have standing to petition the judge for a remedy.
A full list of rights can be found here.
How will it appear on the ballot?
The measure the Oklahoma legislature approved to place Marsy's Law on the ballot is Senate Joint Resolution 46. Once the ballot title was revised, the election board designated the measure as State Question 794. You can find information about SJR 46 here:
Information on Oklahoma State Questions can be found here.