Pennsylvania Crime Victims Rights
If you are a victim of a crime committed in Pennsylvania, you have certain rights by law. Many of these rights are part of the Pennsylvania Crime Victims Act (18 P.S. § 11.101).
There are also a number of victim rights that were created in other Pennsylvania laws, which are included at the end of the listing, after the Crime Victims Act.
For many of the available rights, the victim does not have to do anything, other than to report the crime. There are a number of rights though that the victim must ask to receive, and some that the victim must register to receive.
All victims of crime have some rights in Pennsylvania. Other rights may only be available to victims of personal injury crimes. Other rights may only be available when the crime is committed by a juvenile offender.
Victims Rights from Pennsylvania's Crime Victims Act:
PENNSYLVANIA STATUTES, ANNOTATED BY LEXISNEXIS(TM)
TITLE 18. CRIMES AND OFFENSES
CHAPTER 2. CRIME VICTIMS ACT
CHAPTER 2. CRIME VICTIMS
SUBCHAPTER A. BILL OF RIGHTS
18 P.S. § 11.201 (2009)
§ 11.201. Rights
Victims of crime have the following rights:
- To receive basic information concerning the services available for victims of crime.
- 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:
- Access to information regarding whether the juvenile was detained or released following arrest and whether a petition alleging delinquency has been filed.
- Immediate notification of a juvenile's preadjudication escape from a detention center or shelter facility and of the juvenile's subsequent apprehension.
- Access to information regarding the grant or denial of bail to an adult.
- Immediate notification of an adult offender's pretrial escape from a local correctional facility and of the offender's subsequent apprehension.
- 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.
- 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.
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) .
- 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) .
- 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.
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).
- 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.
- 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)).
- In personal injury crimes where the adult is sentenced to a State correctional facility, to be:
- 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;
- Provided immediate notice of an escape of the adult and of subsequent apprehension; and
- 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.
- In personal injury crimes where the adult is sentenced to a local correctional facility, to:
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:
- 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
- be provided with immediate notice of an escape of the adult and of subsequent apprehension.
- Receive prior notice of the date of the release of the juvenile, including temporary leave or home pass.
- Be provided with:
- immediate notice of an escape of the juvenile, including failure to return from temporary leave or home pass; and
- immediate notice of re-apprehension of the juvenile.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- To have assistance in the preparation of, submission of and follow-up on financial assistance claims to the bureau.
- 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).
- Upon the request of the victim of a personal injury crime, to be notified of the termination of the courts' jurisdiction.
HISTORY: Act 1998-111 (S.B. 1192), § 201, approved Nov. 24, 1998, eff. immediately.; Act 2000-86 (S.B. 1224), § 2, approved Oct. 30, 2000, eff. in 60 days.; Act 2002-85 (S.B. 380), § 1, approved June 28, 2002, eff. in 60 days.
Victims Rights from other Pennsylvania Laws:
Victims in the Courtroom
Victims may not be excluded from a homicide trial based on the fact that they may be providing testimony or an impact statement during the sentencing phase (42 Pa. C.S. Section 9738).
Victims as Witnesses to Offender Execution
Up to four victims have the right to be present at the execution of an offender in their case, providing the victim has registered with and been selected by the Victim Advocate, Office of the Victim Advocate (61 Pa. C.S. Section 4305).
PA Board of Pardons
If registered with the Office of the Victim Advocate, a victim has the right to be provided by the Board of Pardons (BOP) the opportunity to offer prior oral or written comment on any application which has been granted a hearing by the board pertaining to their case. The BOP shall also provide notice of the date, time and place of any hearing pertaining to their case. (71 P.S. 299(d))
Victims of Domestic Violence
Law enforcement agencies shall provide victims of domestic violence (23 Pa. C.S. 6105)
- Oral and written notice of the availability of safe shelter and of domestic violence services in the community, including the hotline number of domestic violence services.
- Written notice that they have the right to file a petition with the court to request an order for protection from domestic abuse (18 Pa. C.S. Section 2711(d). The court may order the abuser to:
- stop any further acts of abuse
- leave the victim's household
- stay away from the victim's home, school or place of employment
- pay support to the victim and any minor child that the abuser owes a duty of support, and
- the court may give temporary custody or temporary visitation of minor children.
Law enforcement agencies must also provide victims of domestic violence who are protected by a protection from abuse order
- Notification of the arrest of the defendant for violation of that order as soon as possible, unless the person cannot be located, the notice shall be provided not more than 24 hours after preliminary arraignment (23 Pa. C.S. 6105 (d)).
Also in cases of domestic violence
- The person asking for a protection from abuse order cannot be charged any fees or costs by the court (23 Pa. C.S. 6106(b)).
- The court must provide forms and clerical assistance in English and Spanish to help write and file the petition for a protection from abuse order with the court if the person is not represented by a lawyer (23 Pa. C.S. 6106(h)).
- The court shall provide oral and written information, in English and Spanish, about where the person asking for protection can get help at the local domestic violence program, the local legal services office and the county bar association's lawyer referral service (23 Pa. C.S. 6106(h)).
Where a victim suffered personal injury from a crime or property was stolen or unlawfully obtained or value decreased, the offender shall be sentenced to make full restitution in addition to other punishment ordered by the court (18 Pa C.S.A. 1106(c)).
If a prosecutor at sentencing wishes to request the court to waive the eligibility requirements for a defendant for the Recidivism Risk Reduction Incentive Program (RRRI), the victim must be notified and be given an opportunity to provide prior comment to the court on this request. The RRRI Program provides an earlier alternative minimum sentence as an incentive for offenders who complete programs while incarcerated aimed at reducing their likelihood of committing crimes in the future (61 Pa. C.S. 4505).
State Intermediate Punishment Resentencing
If the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections requests that the court reconsider an inmate’s sentence, and re-sentence that inmate to the State Intermediate Punishment Program, the victim has a right to be notified and to submit an impact statement to the court prior to the court’s decision. The victim must be notified of the outcome of the court’s decision (61 Pa. C.S. 4104).
County Work Release
If a defendant’s sentence includes the possibility of work release, upon their request, victims have the right to be notified when that defendant files a petition for work release, and must be given an opportunity to be heard on that petition. The victim must be notified of the outcome of the decision to grant or deny the work release (42 Pa. C.S. 9813).
Medical Release of an Offender
Whenever a petition is filed for the medical release of a seriously or terminally ill inmate from state prison or county jail, victims of personal injury crimes committed by that inmate must be notified and given an opportunity to be heard by the court on the petition. The victims must be notified of the outcome of the court’s decision to grant or deny the petition (42 Pa. C.S. 9777).
If you believe your rights were not provided according to these standards, you may file a complaint by completing this form and sending/emailing it to the Office of Victim Advocate.