In New Hampshire, victims have the ‘Victim’s Bill of Rights” in statute, but they have NO constitutional rights. Victims deserve to have constitutional protections, just as those who are accused or convicted of a crime. Unfortunately, right now a defendant’s constitutional rights trump a victim’s statutory rights.
Unless we elevate the rights of a victim to have the same level of constitutional rights of a criminal, the inequity in the NH criminal justice system will remain. We could pass 100 more statutory rights for victims in NH, but defendants’ constitutional rights will still carry much more weight. Passing a constitutional amendment is the only way to truly create parity in the criminal justice system, and to create enforceable rights for victims.
Every state constitution and the U.S. Constitution provide numerous rights for individuals accused of a crime, and individuals convicted of a crime. Crime victims, however, have no enumerated rights in 15 state constitutions—including New Hampshire.
It’s time for New Hampshire to join the 35 states that guarantee constitutional protections for victims of crime by using similar or identical language that is found in CACR 22—language that has never been found to be unconstitutional anywhere in the United States. Marsy’s Law would ensure that victims have the same “co-equal” rights as the accused and convicted. No more, no less.