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  • I Was Hit by a Drunk Driver: What Are My Rights as a Victim of Crime After a Drunk Driving Accident?

I Was Hit by a Drunk Driver: What Are My Rights as a Victim of Crime After a Drunk Driving Accident?

Your rights as a victim of crime after a drunk driving accident

Behind the Creation of Marsy’s Law for Ohio  

Marsy’s Law, also known as the Ohio Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights, is an amendment to Ohio’s constitution aimed at providing certain rights to those who are considered victims of crime. Marsy's Law is named after Marsalee Nicholas, a college student who was stalked and murdered by an ex-boyfriend. Only a week after Marsy was murdered, Marsy’s mother was at the grocery store after burying her daughter, when she was confronted by Marsy’s accused murderer. He had been released on bail, but no one notified Marsy’s family. Their disappointing experience with the criminal justice system inspired Marsy’s family to advocate for stronger rights for victims of crime and their families.  

Marsy's Law was approved by Ohio voters in 2017 and became part of our Ohio constitution. The primary goal of Marsy's Law is to ensure that crime victims are treated with fairness, respect, and dignity throughout the criminal justice process.  

Key Provisions of Marsy's Law 

Marsy's Law in Ohio outlines various rights afforded to crime victims. Some of the key provisions include:  

  • The Right to be Informed: Crime victims have the right to be informed of all public proceedings involving the criminal offense and the right to be notified of any release or escape of the accused. 
  • The Right to be Heard: Victims have the right to be heard during court proceedings involving the release, plea, sentencing, disposition, or parole of the accused. This right provides crime victims with the opportunity to express their opinions and concerns regarding the case. Additionally, crime victims have the right to confer with the government attorney prosecuting the criminal case. 
  • The Right to Privacy: Marsy's Law grants crime victims the right to privacy, shielding them from unwarranted harassment and ensuring that their personal information is protected. 
  • The Right to Full and Timely Restitution: Victims are entitled to receive full and timely restitution for the economic losses they have suffered as a result of the crime.  

Did You Know?  

Not every right afforded to you under the Ohio Constitution as a victim of crime is automatically triggered. For example, a victim’s right to confer with the attorney for the government discussed above must be requested by the victim.1

If you or a loved one have been a victim of drunk driving or other criminal conduct, working with an experienced Plakas Mannos attorney will ensure you understand and fully exercise your rights as a victim of crime under the Ohio Constitution.  

navigating marsy's law in ohio after a drunk driving accident

Empowering Victims: Navigating Marsy's Law in Ohio After a Drunk Driving Accident   

Car accidents involving drunk drivers leave victims grappling with severe physical injuries, emotional trauma, and financial strain. Not only do victims of drunk driving accidents have to deal with medical appointments, car repairs, missed work, and insurance issues, but they are often thrust into a confusing and intimidating criminal justice system- one they may have no experience with. Marsy's Law in Ohio offers a comprehensive framework to ensure that the rights of these victims are not overlooked.  

Pursuant to Marsy’s Law, drunk driving accident victims have the right to immediate and comprehensive notification of all legal proceedings related to the case. This includes bond hearings, pre-trials, trials, and sentencing hearings. As previously discussed, victims of drunk driving accidents have the right to meet with the prosecutor and inform them of what they would like to see happen within the criminal case.  

Marsy's Law empowers victims to actively participate in the legal process. In cases involving drunk driving accidents, this means victims can express their concerns to the Court regarding the severity of the offense, the impact of the accident on their lives, and the need for appropriate legal consequences for the offender.  

Plea agreement for marsy's law criminal case

The Defendant Has Been Offered a Plea Agreement: What Does That Mean for Me?   

In Ohio, the overwhelming majority of criminal cases are concluded by way of a plea agreement. In fact, the Supreme Court of Ohio reported of that 50,352 criminal cases at the Common Pleas level resulted in a plea in 2022.2 Only 1,376 concluded in a trial.3   

Oftentimes, a plea agreement offered by the government attorney can involve the government attorney dismissing or reducing a charge or charges in order to secure a guilty plea. As a victim of crime, like a drunk driving accident, this could be highly important to you.  

If the government attorney dismisses a charge or charges against a criminal defendant, your rights, and any corresponding civil case, could be affected. Therefore, if you or a loved one has been the victim of a car accident involving a drunk driver, it is crucial to understand and assert your rights under Marsy’s Law. 

Here When You Need a Personal Injury Lawyer 

Our dedicated personal injury team includes two former prosecutors with significant experience advocating for victims of drunk driving accidents. Attorneys Elisabeth Jackson and Michael John sought justice as Assistant Prosecutors in the Summit County Prosecutor’s Office and the Stark County Prosecutor’s Office, respectively. Together, Elisabeth and Michael have prosecuted hundreds of drunk driving-related cases. Their time spent in the courtroom as prosecutors includes prosecution of many vehicle-related assault and homicide cases, in which a defendant driver was impaired by either drugs and/or alcohol.    

When you choose Plakas Mannos to fight for your rights in civil litigation, you can take comfort in knowing that we will also be there to support you and make certain your voice is heard in the corresponding criminal case. If you have recently been a drunk driving accident victim or have questions about your case regarding Marsy’s Law for Ohio, contact us today.



About the Authors

Elisabeth C. Jackson headshot  Michael John

Elisabeth Jackson is an associate attorney who focuses on personal injury, wrongful death, criminal law, and general litigation. Michael John is also an associate attorney at Plakas Mannos with a focus on personal injury, general litigation, and domestic relations.

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