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06/20/2024 03:11 AM
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=H&SPick=20130&cosponId=15114
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House of Representatives
Session of 2013 - 2014 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: August 27, 2014 10:48 AM
From: Representative Joseph T. Hackett
To: All House members
Subject: Amending the PA Crime Victims Act
 
In the very near future I will introduce legislation to amend to the Pennsylvania Crime Victims Act to increase a victim's right to be present during trial proceedings.

It was brought to my attention by advocates for victims in my district that victims are not always allowed to attend the entirety of criminal trials. Under both the federal Rules of Evidence and the Pennsylvania Rules of Evidence, a judge may exclude a victim from portions of the trial. I have been told that a defendant may ask that the judge exclude the victim and that the motion is often granted. The defendant argues that the victim should not hear the testimony of others.

Under the federal Crime Victims' Bill of Rights, a victim has a right not to be excluded from a trial unless the court, based upon clear and convincing evidence, determines that testimony of the victim will be materially altered if the victim heard other testimony at trial. In addition, the federal Crime Victims' Bill of Rights states that the court, before making the determination, “shall make every effort to permit the fullest attendance possible by the victim and shall consider reasonable alternatives to the exclusion of the victim…” Further, under federal law, any decision by the judge to exclude a victim must be clearly stated on the record.

Consequently, my bill is modeled after the federal Crime Victims' Bill of Rights and would amend Pennsylvania’s Crime Victims Act to state that a victim of crime has:

…the right not to be excluded from any criminal or juvenile proceeding in accordance with 42 PaCS 6336, unless the court, after receiving clear and convincing evidence, determines that testimony by the victim would be materially altered if the victim heard other testimony at that proceeding. Before making a determination, the court shall make every effort to permit the fullest attendance possible by the victim and shall consider reasonable alternatives to the exclusion of the victim. The reason for any exclusion shall be clearly stated on the record.

Please direct any questions to Kevin Andrews in my office at 610-461-5543 or kandrews@pahousegop.com.

I hope you will join me in cosponsoring this legislation.



Introduced as HB2464