Earlier this year, the Ohio Supreme Court instituted a new law that majorly impacted the way the Ohio legal system approaches victim’s rights. One of the biggest changes was that victims now have the ability to hire counsel to represent them in their own cases. In the past, the state always prosecuted alleged criminals, whether or not the crime involved a victim. That meant that the victim’s counsel was always the prosecutor. The defense still operated like it does currently: The defendants have the right to an attorney and can apply for representation by a public defender, but defendants can also hire private defense. After the law that was passed in May, defendants have the ability to hire their own representation rather than having only the state as an option like before. The victims can now hire an attorney. The Ohio Supreme Court’s website provides a form you can use to designate your rights as a victim. On this form, the Ohio Supreme Court addresses the victim’s representative with this wording:
You may choose to exercise your rights and/or choose a representative to exercise your rights. A representative can be anyone other than the defendant. You can choose, change, or remove a representative at any time.
The form goes on to designate certain automatic rights you have as a victim, and certain rights you have to claim.
If you as the victim do NOT choose which rights you would like to exercise when contacted by law enforcement, you will be treated as if you are exercising all the rights, even the optional ones. If however, you still do not choose which rights you would like to exercised when contacted by the prosecutor, you will be treated as if you have waived the optional rights, but the automatic rights will still be observed.
If you initially waive or do not request some of the optional rights, you can request them later by calling, emailing or completing a new form and submitting it to the investigating officer, prosecutor, court, prison, jail, or community based correctional facility. However, the opportunity to exercise some of the rights to their fullest may have already passed depending on which stage in the process you make the new request.
Here are the automatic rights and options rights (rights that must be requested)
- Be informed of your rights;
- Be treated with fairness and respect for your safety, dignity, and privacy;
- Reasonable protection from the accused or any person acting on behalf of the accused;
- Receive information about the status of the case;
- Refuse a defense interview, disposition, or other discovery request;
- Object to defense requests for access to your confidential information, including medical, counseling, school, or employment records, access to your personal devices, online accounts, or other personal information;
- Be present at all public proceedings;
- Have a support person with you during proceedings;
- Confer with the prosecutors at certain points of the case, including before pretrial diversion is granted, before the prosecutor amends or dismisses an indictment, information, or complaint, before the prosecutor agrees to a negotiated plea, and before a trial or adjudicatory hearing
- Tell the court your opinion in public proceedings involving release, plea, sentencing, disposition, parole, and any other hearing involving victim’s rights.
- Object to unreasonable delays and;
- Full and timely restitution from the offender
Rights that must be requested
- To have your name, address, and identifying information redacted (removed) from
- Law enforcement records
- Prosecutor records
- Court records
- to be notified of the arrest, escape, or release of the offender
- reasonable and timely notice of all public proceedings
- to confer with prosecutor in the case in addition to the times listed above
- to be notified of subpoenas, motions, or other requests to access any of your personal information
- to appoint a Victim’s Representative
- interpretation services during contact with criminal justice system official
The form (linked here) has other helpful information.
Hiring an attorney as the victim is a new concept in Ohio, but it is now allowed according to the new Marcy’s Law. Among other things, the attorneys at Dearie, Fischer & Martinson can represent victims in criminal and delinquent cases. If you believe you are a victim of a criminal or delinquent act and would like to hire an attorney, do not hesitate to contact the expert attorneys at Dearie, Fischer & Martinson.