Schuitmaker, O’Brien bills give crime victims greater rights at offender sentencing

For Immediate Release:
May 15, 2014

Contact: Derek Sova      

LANSING, Mich.—The Michigan Legislature sent three bills to the governor Wednesday that will give the parents of child victims the opportunity to speak at the sentencing of an offender.

“When a child is the victim of a crime, especially sexual assault, it is traumatic for the whole family,” said Sen. Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, sponsor of Senate Bills 628 and 749. “Even though it can take some time for the offender to be brought to justice, parents have a right to share the experiences and struggles they endured.”

The William Van Regenmorter Crime Victim’s Rights Act gives the victim of a crime the right to make an impact statement at an offenders sentencing. The current definition of ‘victim’ includes the parents or guardians of a victim who is less than 18 years of age. 

There has been some confusion over whether a parent is considered a victim if the child was under 18 at the time the offense occurred, but over 18 at the time of sentencing. Courts in some jurisdictions have been allowing only the now-adult victim or the parent to speak, but not both.  

“Michigan is a leader in standing up for the rights of crime victims,” said Rep. Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage, sponsor of House Bill 5263. “These bills will clarify that victims have rights, no matter how much time has passed.”

The legislation will amend the William Van Regenmorter Crime Victim’s Rights Act to clarify that the term ‘victim’ includes, for the purposes of making a statement at sentencing, the parents of a child who was under 18 at the time of the offense, regardless of the age at the time of sentencing.

SB 628 applies to victims of a felony. SB 749 applies to victims of a crime committed by a juvenile. HB 5263 applies to victims of a serious misdemeanor.

All three bills passed unanimously and will now be sent to the governor for his signature.