Does the California Victims’ Rights Law Narrow the Rights of Crime Victims?


In 2008, California voters passed ‘‘Marsy’s Law,’’ the Victims’ Bill of Rights Act of 2008. Curiously, Marsy’s Law’s definition of ‘‘victim’’ appears at first glance to narrow the scope of victims’ rights. Marsy’s Law defines a victim as follows:

A ‘‘victim’’ is a person who suffers direct or threatened physical, psychological, or financial harm as a result of the commission or attempted commission of a crime or delinquent act. The term ‘‘victim’’ also includes the person’s spouse, parents, children, siblings, or guardian, and includes a lawful representative of a crime victim who is deceased, a minor, or physically or psychologically incapacitated. The term ‘‘victim’’ does not include a person in custody for an offense, the accused, or a person whom the court finds would not act in the best interests of a minor victim. [§ 4(e) of the Act (2008)]

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