Marsy's Law (Illinois)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Crime Victims' Bill of Rights
Amendment of Section 8.1 of Article I of the Illinois Constitution
Votes %
Yes 2,653,475 78.45%
No 728,991 21.55%

Marsy's Law for Illinois, formally called the Illinois Crime Victims' Bill of Rights, amended the 1993 Rights of Crime Victims and Witnesses Act by establishing additional protections for crime victims and their families. Voters approved the measure as a constitutional amendment on November 4, 2014. It became law in 2015.

The law is modeled after a piece of 2008 California legislation called Marsy's Law.


The Illinois Crime Victims' Bill of Rights amended the Constitution of Illinois to include protections for crime victims, including information on hearings, restitution and other protections.[1] It was modeled after 2008 California legislation called Marsy's Law, named after Marsy Nicholas, a California college student who was murdered by an ex-boyfriend in 1983.[2]

Illinois' Marsy's Law was one of several efforts to expand Marsy's Law across the U.S. following its successful adoption in California. Voters in South Dakota[3][4] and Montana[5] adopted their own versions of Marsy's Law in 2016, but the Montana measure was held unconstitutional by the Montana Supreme Court before it was implemented.[6] There are efforts to introduce similar Marsy's Laws in Hawaii[7] and Nevada.[8] The ballot measure in Illinois received close to $4.3 million in financial support from Henry Nicholas, the brother of Marsy Nicholas and the sponsor of the original campaign in California.[9][10]


In April 2014, Illinois lawmakers in the state's House and Senate agreed to place a referendum on the fall ballot to amend the Illinois state constitution.[1][11] The proposed amendment to Section 8.1 of Article I of the Illinois Constitution, the Crime Victims' Bill of Rights, appeared on the ballot of the November 4, 2014, general election. Seventy-eight percent of voters who answered the question approved the referendum.[9]

The state House approved HB 1121, the implementation bill reconciling the 1993 Rights of Crime Victims and Witnesses Act with the constitutional amendment, on April 23, 2015.[12][13] A month later, the state Senate approved the bill.[12][13] Marsy's Law became effective immediately when Governor Bruce Rauner signed the legislation on August 20, 2015.[14]

The editorial boards of the Chicago Tribune,[15] The Southern Illinoisan,[16] Herald & Review,[17] Rock River Times,[18] The Pantagraph[19] and Rockford Register Star[20] encouraged voters to approve the Marsy's Law amendment. The Chicago Tribune editorial board wrote that the measure gives victims legal standing to assert rights. "Because of the limits in the existing constitutional text," the editorial board wrote, "this change cannot be made by passing a law — only by revising the constitution." The Daily Herald (Arlington Heights),[21] The News-Gazette (Champaign-Urbana)[22] and Quad-City Times[23] editorial boards opposed the amendment. Whereas The News-Gazette and Quad-City Times said the referendum offered no new protections,[22][23] the Daily Herald said the constitution change "adds little aside from some enforcement provisions to rights already granted" and could increase court costs.[21]

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan supported Marsy's Law by saying victims are "owed a voice".[1] The Illinois Family Institute sided with supporters of the amendment who said it would help enforce existing laws.[24]

Opponents of Marsy's Law included House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, Illinois State Bar Association and defense attorneys (The Illinois Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys) .[1][25] Currie said the proposal would slow court proceedings.[1] The bar association argued the changes should be made through statutes, rather than amendments to the state constitution.[26]

Provisions of the law[edit]

The Illinois Crime Victims' Bill of Rights amended the 1993 Rights of Crime Victims and Witnesses Act by establishing additional protections for victims of crimes and their families.[14] The law says crime victims have the right to be free from harassment, intimidation and abuse throughout the court process.[14] The law ensures victims receive timely notice of all court proceedings and the accused's conviction, sentence, imprisonment and release.[14] Additionally, the law allows victims the right to communicate with prosecution; to be heard at proceedings on post-arraignment release decisions, pleas, or sentencings; to attend trials and other court proceedings, and to have an advocate attend hearings with them; restitution; and to have their safety and the safety of their family considered in bail decisions and conditions of release.[14]


For the proposed amendment of Section 8.1 of Article I of the Illinois Constitution[27]
Choice Votes %
Referendum passed Yes 2,653,475 78.4
No 728,991 21.6
Total votes 3,382,466 100.00


  1. ^ a b c d e Tareen, Sophia (20 October 2015). "Illinois voters to face a rare 5 ballot questions". The Associated Press. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  2. ^ Colker, David (27 March 2015). "Marcella Leach dies at 85; advocate for Marsy's Law on victims' rights". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  3. ^ "South Dakota Constitution, Article VI, Section 29". South Dakota Legislative Research Council. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  4. ^ Mercer, Bob (26 October 2015). "Panel studying child sexual abuse seems inclined to favor victim-rights amendment". Rapid City Journal. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  5. ^ Carter, Troy (25 October 2015). "Elections 2016: Montana ballot measures proposed on marijuana, guns, criminal justice". Bozeman Daily Chronicle. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  6. ^ O'Brien, Edward (1 November 2017). "Montana Supreme Court Declares Marsy's Law Unconstitutional". Montana Public Radio. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  7. ^ "Hawaii lawmakers consider crime victims' right-to-know bill". KHON-TV. 3 March 2015. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  8. ^ Corona, Marcella (12 June 2015). "Bills to help child above, revenge porn victims". Reno Gazette-Journal. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
  9. ^ a b Essley Whyte, Liz (5 February 2015). "Big business gave heavily to thwart ballot measures in 2014". Time. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  10. ^ Mickadeit, Frank (20 April 2010). "On victims' day, Henry Nicholas recalls sister". Orange County Register. Retrieved 11 December 2015.
  11. ^ Chuck Sudo (11 April 2014). "Voters Rights, Crime Victims' Bill Of Rights Amendments Added To Illinois' General Election". Chicagoist. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  12. ^ a b "Bill Status of HB1121 99th General Assembly". Illinois General Assembly. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  13. ^ a b Ruch, Amber (26 May 2015). "Marsy's Law legislation unanimously passes IL Senate". KFVS-TV. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  14. ^ a b c d e "Public Act 099-0413" (PDF). Illinois General Assembly. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  15. ^ "Vote yes on the Illinois constitutional amendments". Chicago Tribune. 27 October 2014. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  16. ^ "Voice of The Southern: Vote yes on Crime Victims' Bill of Rights". The Southern Illinoisan. 30 October 2014. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  17. ^ "Two amendments that deserve passage". Herald & Review. 19 October 2014. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  18. ^ "Nov. 4 General Election endorsements". Rock River Times. 29 October 2014. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  19. ^ "Editorial: Constitutional proposals worth your vote". The Pantagraph. 19 October 2014. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  20. ^ "Our View: Support victims' rights". Rockford Register Star. 30 October 2014. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  21. ^ a b "Endorsement: No on well-meaning but uncertain amendments". Daily Herald (Arlington Heights). 19 October 2014. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  22. ^ a b "Phony issues on the ballot". The News-Gazette (Champaign-Urbana). 24 October 2014. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  23. ^ a b "Six times 'no'". Quad-City Times. 31 October 2014. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  24. ^ "Illinois Family Institute recommends 4 "No", 1 "yes" on November ballot questions". Illinois Review. 9 October 2014. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
  25. ^ Dismer, Elise (10 April 2014). "Senate puts victims-rights amendment on Nov. 4 ballot". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved 7 December 2015.[permanent dead link]
  26. ^ Lecci, Stephanie (8 September 2014). "Illinois voters to consider constitutional amendment on crime victims' rights". KWMU. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
  27. ^ "Election Results: General Election—11/4/2014". Illinois State Board of Elections. 4 November 2014. Retrieved 2 November 2015.

External links[edit]