|Posted:||January 9, 2019 02:05 PM|
|From:||Senator Wayne Langerholc, Jr.|
|To:||All Senate members|
|Subject:||Amending the Commonwealth’s Crime Victims Act|
|In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation which was previously introduced by Senator McGarrigle. Senate Bill 189 of last session was an important attempt to amend the Pennsylvania Crime Victims Act.
As a former assistant district attorney, I found it troublesome 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. A defendant may ask that the judge exclude the victim and, in Pennsylvania at least, the motion is often granted when 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.
This legislation is directly modeled after the Federal Crime Victims' Bill of Rights and would amend Pennsylvania’s Crime Victims Act to bring it in line with federal law to expressly grant these same rights to victims under state law.
Previous co-sponsors of SB 189 include, Senators Argall, Fontana, Schwank, Baker, Mensch, Hughes, Costa, Yudichak, Browne and A. Williams. .
Please join me in co-sponsoring this vital legislation.
Introduced as SB425