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Nov 052014

The Pennsylvania Crime Victims Act – Rights of Victims
in Criminal Cases

In Pennsylvania, victims of crime have criminal and civil legal rights. In civil cases, victims have the right to seek compensation against direct perpetrators (criminal perpetrator) as well as any other individual or entity which had a duty to stop or prevent the abuse, but failed to do so.

The typical example involves a private school in the Philadelphia suburbs and a teacher with a long history of sexually abusive conduct. A student who is sexually abused by that teacher may file a civil lawsuit against the teacher and the school alleging failure to protect the student. Read more about civil rights in Pennsylvania sex abuse/assault cases.

Under PA criminal law, victims of crime have the following rights:

  1. To receive basic information concerning the services available for victims of crime.
  2. To be notified of certain significant actions and proceedings within the criminal and juvenile justice systems pertaining to their case. This paragraph includes all of the following:
    1. Access to information regarding whether the juvenile was detained or released following arrest and whether a petition alleging delinquency has been filed.
    2. Immediate notification of a juvenile’s preadjudication escape from a detention center or shelter facility and of the juvenile’s subsequent apprehension.
    3. Access to information regarding the grant or denial of bail to an adult.
    4. Immediate notification of an adult offender’s pretrial escape from a local correctional facility and of the offender’s subsequent apprehension.
  3. To be accompanied at certain criminal and all juvenile proceedings in accordance with 42 Pa.C.S. § 6336(d) (relating to conduct of hearings) by a family member, a victim advocate or other person providing assistance or support.
  4. In cases involving a personal injury crime or burglary, to submit prior comment to the prosecutor’s office or juvenile probation office, as appropriate to the circumstances of the case, on the potential reduction or dropping of any charge or changing of a plea in a criminal or delinquency proceeding, or, diversion of any case, including an informal adjustment or consent decree.
  5. In cases involving a personal injury crime, to receive notice and provide comment to the sentencing court when the prosecutor’s office requests an eligibility requirements waiver as part of Recidivism Risk Reduction Incentive (RRRI) sentence (61 Pa.C.S. § 4504).
  6. To have opportunity to offer prior comment on the sentencing of a defendant or the disposition of a delinquent child, to include the submission of a written and oral victim impact statement detailing the physical, psychological and economic effects of the crime on the victim and the victim’s family. The written statement shall be included in any predisposition or pre-sentence report submitted to the court. Victim-impact statements shall be considered by a court when determining the disposition of a juvenile or sentence of an adult (18 P.S. § 11.201).
    1. To have notice and to provide prior comment on a judicial recommendation that the defendant participate in a motivational boot camp (61 Pa.C.S. § 3905), known as the Motivational Boot Camp Act.
    2. To have notice of and to provide comment on defendant’s medical release petition submitted to the court and to receive notice of final adjudication (42 Pa. C.S. Section 9777).
    3. Upon request of the victim of a personal injury crime, to have the opportunity to submit written comment or present oral testimony at a disposition review hearing, which comment or testimony shall be considered by the court when reviewing the disposition of the juvenile.
  7. To be restored, to the extent possible, to the precrime economic status through the provision of restitution, compensation and the expeditious return of property which is seized as evidence in the case when in the judgment of the prosecutor the evidence is no longer needed for prosecution of the case (18 Pa. C.S. 1106(c)).
  8. In personal injury crimes where the adult is sentenced to a State correctional facility, to be:
    1. Given the opportunity to provide prior comment on and to receive State postsentencing release decisions, including work release, furlough, parole, pardon or community treatment center placement;
    2. Provided immediate notice of an escape of the adult and of subsequent apprehension; and
    3. Given the opportunity to receive notice of and to provide prior comment on a recommendation sought by the Department of Corrections that the offender participate in a motivational boot camp pursuant to the Motivational Boot Camp Act.
  9. In personal injury crimes where the adult is sentenced to a local correctional facility, to:
    1. receive notice of the date of the release of the adult, including work release, furlough, parole, release from a boot camp or community treatment center placement (42 Pa. C.S. Section 9813); and
    2. be provided with immediate notice of an escape of the adult and of subsequent apprehension.

If, upon the request of the victim of a personal injury crime committed by a juvenile, the juvenile is ordered to residential placement, a shelter facility or a detention center, to:

i. Receive prior notice of the date of the release of the juvenile, including temporary leave or home pass.
ii. Be provided with:

1. immediate notice of an escape of the juvenile, including failure to return from temporary leave or home pass; and

2. immediate notice of re-apprehension of the juvenile.

11. Be provided with notice of transfer of a juvenile who has been adjudicated delinquent from a placement facility that is contrary to a previous court order or placement plan approved at a disposition review hearing and to have the opportunity to express a written objection prior to the release or transfer of the juvenile.

12. If the adult is subject to an order under 23 Pa.C.S. Ch. 61 (relating to Protection From Abuse Act) and is committed to a local correctional facility for a violation of the order or for a personal injury crime against a victim protected by the order, to receive immediate notice of the release of the adult on bail (18 P.S. Section 11.201).

13. To receive notice if an adult is committed to a mental health facility from a State correctional institution and notice of the discharge, transfer or escape of the adult from the mental health facility.

14. To have assistance in the preparation of, submission of and follow-up on financial assistance claims to the bureau.

15. To be notified of the details of the final disposition of the case of a juvenile consistent with 42 Pa.C.S. § 6336(e) (relating to conduct of hearings).

16. Upon the request of the victim of a personal injury crime, to be notified of the termination of the courts’ jurisdiction.


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 Posted by on November 5, 2014 Sexual Abuse