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State Victims' Rights Amendments


Montana adopted a victims' rights amendment its constitution on November 8, 2016 with a vote of nearly 66 percent.

Amendment Text:

WHEREAS, the People of the State of Montana find that a crime victim in Montana is entitled to enhanced, specific, and meaningful rights to participate in criminal and youth court proceedings and enact the following new section of Article II of The Constitution of the State of Montana. The section is named for a noted victim of crime, Marsy, in whose name many states have enacted comparable reforms.


Section 1. Article II of The Constitution of the State of Montana is amended by adding a new section 36 that reads:

Section 36. Rights of crime victims. (1) To preserve and protect a crime victim's right to justice, to ensure a crime victim has a meaningful role in criminal and juvenile justice systems, and to ensure that a crime victim’s rights and interests are respected and protected by law in a manner no less vigorous than the protections afforded to a criminal defendant and a delinquent youth, a crime victim has the following rights, beginning at the time of victimization:

(a) to due process and to be treated with fairness and respect for the victim's dignity;
(b) to be free from intimidation, harassment, and abuse;
(c) to be reasonably protected from the accused and any person acting on the accused's behalf;
(d) to have the victim's safety and welfare considered when setting bail and making release decisions;
(e) to prevent the disclosure of information that could be used to locate or harass the victim or that contains confidential or privileged information about the victim;
(f) to privacy, including the right to refuse an interview, deposition, or other discovery request and to set reasonable conditions on the conduct of any interaction to which the victim consents;
(g) to receive reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of and to be present at all proceedings involving the criminal conduct, plea, sentencing, adjudication, disposition, release, or escape of the defendant or youth accused of delinquency and any proceeding implicating the rights of the victim;
(h) to be promptly notified of any release or escape of the accused;
(i) to be heard in any proceeding involving the release, plea, sentencing, disposition, adjudication, or parole of the defendant or youth accused of delinquency and any proceeding implicating the rights of the victim;
(j) to confer with the prosecuting attorney;
(k) to provide information regarding the impact the offender's conduct had on the victim for inclusion in the presentence or predisposition investigation report and to
have the information considered in any sentencing or disposition recommendations submitted to the court;
(l) to receive a copy of any presentence report and any other report or record relevant to the exercise of a right of the victim, except for those portions made confidential by law;
(m) to the prompt return of the victim's property when no longer needed as evidence in the case;
(n) to full and timely restitution. All money and property collected from a person who has been ordered to make restitution must be applied first to the restitution owed to the victim before paying any amounts owed to the government.
(o) to proceedings free from unreasonable delay and to a prompt and final conclusion of the case and any related postjudgment proceedings;
(p) to be informed of the conviction, sentence, adjudication, place and time of incarceration, or other disposition of the offender, including any scheduled release date, actual release date, or escape;
(q) to be informed of clemency and expungement procedures; to provide information to the Governor, the court, any clemency board, or any other authority and to have that information considered before a decision is made; and to be notified of any decision before the release of the offender; and
(r) to be informed of the above rights and to be informed that the victim may seek the advice and assistance of an attorney with respect to the above rights. This information must be made available to the general public and provided to all crime victims on what is referred to as a Marsy's card.

(2) A victim, the victim's attorney, the victim's legal representative, or the prosecuting attorney at the request of the victim may assert and seek enforcement of the rights enumerated in this section and any other right afforded to the victim by law in any trial or appellate court or any other authority with jurisdiction over the case as a matter of right. The court or other authority shall act promptly on the request, affording a remedy by due course of law for the violation of any right. The reasons for any decision regarding disposition of a victim's right must be clearly stated on the record.

(3) This section may not be construed to deny or disparage other rights possessed by victims. This section applies to criminal and youth court proceedings, is self-executing, and requires no further action by the Legislature.

(4) As used in this section, the following definitions apply:

(a) "Crime" means an act defined as a felony, misdemeanor, or delinquency under state law.
(b) "Victim" means a person who suffers direct or threatened physical, psychological, or financial harm as a result of the commission or attempted commission of a crime.

(i) The term includes:

(A) a spouse, parent, grandparent, child, sibling, grandchild, or guardian of the victim;
(B) a person with a relationship to the victim that is substantially similar to a relationship described in subsection (4)(b)(i)(A); and
(C) a representative of a victim who is a minor or who is deceased, incompetent or incapacitated.

(ii) The term does not include the accused or a person who the court believes would not act in the best interests of a minor or of a victim who is deceased, incompetent or incapacitated.

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