Legislation to help protect young victims passed by House

For Immediate Release                                                           
Feb. 5 2014         

Contact: Derek Sova

LANSING, Mich.—The Michigan House approved a bill package to allow parents to provide an impact statement even if the victim is older than 18 at the time of the trial. State Reps. Margaret O’Brien and Wayne Schmidt along with Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker sponsored the bill package.

The package includes House Bills 5262-63 and Senate Bill 628 that allow parents to make an impact statement at the sentencing if the crime was committed when the victim was a minor. As law currently reads, parents of victims who are no longer minors at the time of the trial are not allowed to speak at the sentencing. Each bill modifies a different section of the William Van Regenmorter Crime Victim’s Rights Act.

Rep. Schmidt sponsored HB 5262 which allows parents to deliver an impact statement in cases of a juvenile committing a crime against a minor.

“We need to make sure we’re seeing the full impact of a crime at the time of sentencing an offender, especially if that crime is committed against a minor,” said Schmidt, R- Traverse City. “This legislation gives families the ability to have their voices heard on the matter, since there is an impact on the entire family in these cases.”

HB 5263 sponsored by O’Brien allows for an impact statement to be given in the case of a misdemeanor committed against a minor.  

“Crimes against children negatively impact entire families,” said O'Brien, R-Portage. “It is essential families have a voice regardless of when the crime is actually prosecuted.”

Sen. Schuitmaker’s legislation, SB 628, applies to children who were victims of a felony.

“Unfortunately, crimes against children are oftentimes not discovered and prosecuted until later on in life, but the pain these victims and their families experience never goes away,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “Everyone whose lives are negatively affected by these crimes should be able to share their experience.”