Bill Summaries: H 551 STRENGTHENING VICTIMS' RIGHTS.

Tracking:
  • Summary date: Jun 27 2018 - More information

    AN ACT TO AMEND THE CONSTITUTION OF NORTH CAROLINA TO PROVIDE BETTER PROTECTIONS AND SAFEGUARDS TO VICTIMS OF CRIME. Enacted June 27, 2018. Effective June 27, 2018, except as otherwise provided.


  • Summary date: Jun 25 2018 - More information

    Senate committee substitute makes the following changes to 2nd edition. Adds general proclamation that victims of crimes are to be treated with dignity and respect by the criminal justice system. Clarifies that a victim must request to be present at the court proceedings of the accused. Qualifies the right of a victim to be heard in the accused's court proceedings by requiring that the victim may only be reasonably heard. Qualifies the victim's right to restitution from the accused by requiring the restitution to be provided in a reasonably timely manner, and when ordered by the court. Qualifies the victim's right to information about the final disposition of the accused's case by requiring that the victim request this information. Qualifies right to confer with the prosecution by requiring that the conferring be reasonable. Deletes victim's right to be reasonably protected from the defendant. Deletes victim's right to proceedings free from unreasonable delay and a prompt conclusion to the accused's case. Delete's victims right to be treated with fairness and respect for their dignity and privacy. Deletes provision that this section does not affect the State's discovery obligations. Deletes provision that prohibits this section from being construed to authorize a collateral civil cause of action. 

    Defines victim as a person that a crime or act of delinquency was committed against or involving their person, or when a crime or act of delinquency is equivalent to a felony property crime. Deletes prior definition of victim

    Clarifies that the General Assembly will provide, by general law, the procedure for a victim or victim's representative to assert the rights provided by this section.  

    Adds provision that nothing in this section may be construed to provide for any cause of action against any government employees or agents. Adds provision that nothing in this section may be construed to create a right of action for a victim to appeal any decision made in the accused's proceedings, or challenge any adjudication, or participate in any proceeding as a party, or gain access to confidential juvenile records. Adds provision that nothing in this section may be construed to restrict the power of the district attorney or the inherent authority of the court. 

    Makes other clarifying and technical changes. 


  • Summary date: Apr 26 2017 - More information

    House committee substitute makes the following changes to the 1st edition:

    Amends proposed constitutional amendment. Includes victims of delinquent acts in the persons with rights under Article I, Sec. 37. Provides all persons with rights under this section with the right, upon request, to reasonable and timely notice of all criminal and juvenile proceedings; the right to be present at criminal and juvenile proceedings of the defendant; the right to be heard, when the victim is present, at any proceeding involving a plea, sentencing, parole, release of the defendant, and any proceeding in which the victim's rights are implicated, except for the defendant's initial appearance; and the right to be reasonably protected from the defendant. Amends terminology to replace "accused" with "defendant." Provides that the section does not affect the State's discovery obligations. Requires a victim seeking enforcement of their rights in a matter alleging that a District Attorney failed to comply with the victim's rights, that the victim must first afford the District Attorney the opportunity to resolve any issue in a timely manner. Deletes the requirement that a person be proximately harmed by the commission of the listed offenses to be considered a victim. Does not authorize a collateral civil cause of action.

    Places the proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot for the primary election in May 2018 (was, general election in November 2018).


  • Summary date: Apr 4 2017 - More information

    Subject to voter approval at the statewide election in November 2018, amends Section 37 of Article I of the NC Constitution to amend the rights of victims of crime as follows. 

    Amends subsection (1) of Section 37, which delineates the basic rights of victims of crime. Eliminates all "prescribed by law" language in the existing detailed rights. Amends the following rights to now provide: (1) the right, upon request, to reasonable and timely notice of, and to be present at criminal and juvenile proceedings of the accused (currently, the right as prescribed by law to be informed of and to be present at court proceedings of the accused); (2) the right to be heard at sentencing or disposition of the accused and at any proceedings involving release, plea, parole, and during which a right of the victim is implicated (currently, the right to be heard at sentencing of the accused in a manner prescribed by law and at other times as prescribed by law or deemed appropriate by the court); (3) the right to receive full and timely restitution from the defendant (currently, the right as prescribed by law to receive restitution); and (4) the right, upon request, to receive notification of escape, release, proposed parole or pardon of the accused, or notice of a reprieve or commutation of the accused's sentence (currently, the right as prescribed by law, and does not specify the victim is to request to receive notifications). Additionally, adds three rights to the list: (1) the right to reasonable protection from the accused or anyone acting at the direction of the accused, (2) the right to proceedings free from unreasonable delay and a prompt conclusion of the case, and (3) the right to be treated with fairness and respect for the victim's dignity and privacy.

    Adds new subsection (1a) permitting the victim, the victim's next of kin, the victim's attorney, or other lawful representative, or the attorney for the government upon request of the victim, to assert and seek enforcement of the rights enumerated in subsection (1) and any other right afforded to the victim by law in any trial or appellate court, or before any other authority, with jurisdiction over the case. Directs the court or other authority to act promptly on a request. Provides that the victim does not have party status, and that the court is not to appoint an attorney for the victim under this subsection. Clarifies that nothing in this subsection alters the powers and responsibilities of the District Attorney. 

    Adds new subsection (1b) to define victim to include any person directly and proximately harmed by the commission of a felony, sexual offense, domestic criminal trespass, stalking offense, offense involving a violation of a protective order, or any offense in which assault or threats are an element, or a person against whom such an offense is committed. Provides that the term does not include the accused or a person whom the court finds would not act in the best interests of a deceased, incompetent, minor, or incapacitated victim.

    Makes conforming changes to subsection (2). Eliminates the provision permitting the General Assembly to provide other remedies to ensure adequate enforcement of the provisions of Section 37. Further, expands the provision clarifying that nothing in Section 37 creates a claim for money damages against the State, a county, a municipality, or any of the agencies, instrumentalities, or employees thereof, to include officers thereof. 

    If approved, effective January 1, 2019.


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