April 11, 2023

Constitutional Rights – Not just for the accused

Meg Garvin, MA, JD, Mst
Executive Director

While privacy law was dealt a blow in 2022, there is much hope that victims’ privacy rights can still be protected.  

The Fourth Amendment provides all individuals a constitutional right “to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” A key element of the Fourth Amendment is that the protection is from State action.  

While state action is generally obvious when a case involves police action against an accused, often we do not think of state action when crime victim information is being sought.  Yet it is important to recognize that crime victims, no less than an accused, are protected by the Fourth Amendment and that court orders compelling access to victim information is state action sufficient to trigger scrutiny.  

In Draper v. Hon. Joy Lynn Gentry, the amazing team at the Arizona Voice for Crime Victims (AVCV) directly represented a victim who was being subject to state action in the form of a compelled search due to court order.  

Amici NCVLI and Arizona Crime Victim Rights Law Group jumped in to support AVCV before the Arizona Supreme Court.  

Notably, failure to factor victims’ Fourth Amendment rights is often a separate and distinct violation of victims’ rights to justice and due process.

In the year ahead, we must continue to weave the Fourth Amendment into arguments as we fight to protect victims’ privacy rights in their cell phones, their car GPS, and more.

Protection from government overreach is a fundamental value of this country; and whether the person subject to the overreach is an accused person or a crime victim, they must be afforded full protection under the law.