SIDNEY — The Shelby County Commissioners passed a resolution bringing Shelby County Victim Services under the purview of the Shelby County Prosecutor’s Office in response to recent House Bill 343 legislation enacted in reference to Marsy’s Law. The resolution was approved on Tuesday, May 23.
Marsy’s Law, which was passed in November 2017 in Ohio and took effect in February 2018, provides crime victims with meaningful rights within the criminal justice system, including information pertinent to a victim’s case regarding court proceedings, victim compensation, arrest details, dialogue with prosecutors regarding case developments and negotiations, support in attending hearings, and the ability to give a Victim Impact statement.
“For many years, Victim Services of Shelby County has worked hand in hand with the Prosecutor’s Office to provide information, support and advocacy for crime victims in our county,” said Shelby County Prosecutor Tim Sell.
Shelby County Victim Services provides on call services for sheriff, police, and hospital requests for assistance and intervention in cases of violent crime and death notification, referrals to county agencies, court advocacy and support, notifications for ongoing cases, free therapeutic counseling by a licensed trauma certified therapist for crime victims and their families, and victim compensation assistance for victims of violent felony crimes and serious misdemeanor crimes.
“Given the newly implemented expanded notification requirements and legislative updates to Marsy’s Law, and the subsequent significant overlap of duties between the Prosecutor’s office and Victim Services, it became imperative that Shelby County Victim Services partner with the Shelby County Prosecutor’s office to ensure the protection and facilitation of victims’ rights,” said Shelby County Commissioner Bob Guillozet.
The new legislation, effective May 4, 2023, implements the requirements of Marsy’s Law to enforce specific provisions, such as allowing victims to be present and heard when criminal justice proceedings take place, including at post-conviction hearings, notification of their rights, notification of case updates and proceedings, reasonable protection of the victim from the accused and anyone acting on behalf of the accused, and protection of victims’ right to keep their identifying information private.
Codified in the new legislation are Victim Rights Request Forms, which are provided to victims to inform them of their rights in the judicial process, explaining which rights are automatic and which are able to be exercised upon the request of the victim, and allowing victims to designate a representative and have their requests filed with the court in the pertinent case.
“This is an excellent opportunity for our office to combine our ongoing efforts with the Prosecutor’s office in protecting the constitutional rights of victims in Shelby County, especially as the scope for fulfilling Marsy’s Law requirements expands significantly,” said Tiffany Kemp, executive director of Victim Services.