MICHIGAN – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signed bipartisan legislation aimed at providing support to victims of crimes, particularly survivors of domestic and sexual violence, while also ensuring privacy protections and virtual testimony options.
This move is part of the Michigan Crime Victims’ Rights Package, which aims to enhance coordination between law enforcement and organizations assisting survivors.
House Bill 4422, sponsored by state Rep. Graham Filler (R-Clinton County), expands the definition of serious misdemeanor within the William Van Regenmorter Crime Victim’s Rights Act. This expansion includes additional misdemeanor offenses, such as threatening a state health official, embezzlement from a vulnerable adult, and causing serious injury or death while driving. The goal is to give crime victims a stronger voice in the judicial process.
Filler stressed the importance of providing resources, support, and protection to crime victims during the sentencing and trial phase.
House Bill 4420, sponsored by state Rep. Julie Rogers (D-Kalamazoo), enables police officers and prosecuting attorneys to share victims’ contact information with domestic and sexual violence service providers to offer support services to victims. This provision seeks to ensure survivors receive the help they need while protecting their privacy.
Rogers highlighted the importance of connecting survivors with survivor-centered programs like trauma recovery and ensuring the protection of their privacy during this process.
House Bill 4421, sponsored by state Rep. Stephanie Young (D-Detroit), addresses the privacy of crime victims by allowing their images to be blurred in videos, photos, and sketches of court proceedings streamed on the internet. This measure aims to prevent digital stalking or other potential abuses.
House Bill 4423, sponsored by state Rep. Greg VanWoerkom (R-Norton Shores), allows crime victims to provide oral impact statements virtually during disposition or sentencing. This provision ensures that victims can share their statements in a safe environment away from their abuser.
These legislative actions represent a bipartisan effort to support and protect crime victims and survivors while ensuring a fair and secure judicial process in Michigan.