PRINTER'S NO. 498
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA
SENATE BILL
No.
479
Session of
2019
INTRODUCED BY BAKER, FONTANA, MARTIN, SCHWANK, PHILLIPS-HILL,
BREWSTER, KILLION, FOLMER, SANTARSIERO, K. WARD AND MENSCH,
MARCH 26, 2019
REFERRED TO JUDICIARY, MARCH 26, 2019
AN ACT
Amending Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the
Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in depositions and
witnesses, further providing for admissibility of certain
statements.
The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
hereby enacts as follows:
Section 1. Section 5985.1(a), (a.1) and (a.2) of Title 42 of
the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes are amended to read:
ยง 5985.1. Admissibility of certain statements.
(a) General rule.--
(1) An out-of-court statement made by a child victim or
witness, who at the time the statement was made was 12 years
of age or younger, describing any of the offenses enumerated
in [18 Pa.C.S. Chs. 25 (relating to criminal homicide), 27
(relating to assault), 29 (relating to kidnapping), 31
(relating to sexual offenses), 35 (relating to burglary and
other criminal intrusion) and 37 (relating to robbery)]
paragraph (2), not otherwise admissible by statute or rule of
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evidence, is admissible in evidence in any criminal or civil
proceeding if:
[(1)] (i) the court finds, in an in camera hearing, that
the evidence is relevant and that the time, content and
circumstances of the statement provide sufficient indicia of
reliability; and
[(2)] (ii) the child either:
[(i)] (A) testifies at the proceeding; or
[(ii)] (B) is unavailable as a witness.
(2) The following offenses under 18 Pa.C.S. (relating to
crimes and offenses) shall apply to paragraph (1):
Chapter 25 (relating to criminal homicide).
Chapter 27 (relating to assault).
Chapter 29 (relating to kidnapping).
Chapter 30 (relating to human trafficking).
Chapter 31 (relating to sexual offenses).
Chapter 35 (relating to burglary and other criminal
intrusion).
Chapter 37 (relating to robbery).
Section 4302 (relating to incest).
Section 4304 (relating to endangering welfare of
children), if the offense involved sexual contact with the
victim.
Section 6301(a)(1)(ii) (relating to corruption of
minors).
Section 6312(b) (relating to sexual abuse of children).
Section 6318 (relating to unlawful contact with minor).
Section 6320 (relating to sexual exploitation of
children).
(a.1) Emotional distress.--In order to make a finding under
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subsection [(a)(2)(ii)] (a)(1)(ii)(B) that the child is
unavailable as a witness, the court must determine, based on
evidence presented to it, that testimony by the child as a
witness will result in the child suffering serious emotional
distress that would substantially impair the child's ability to
reasonably communicate. In making this determination, the court
may do all of the following:
(1) Observe and question the child, either inside or
outside the courtroom.
(2) Hear testimony of a parent or custodian or any other
person, such as a person who has dealt with the child in a
medical or therapeutic setting.
(a.2) Counsel and confrontation.--If the court hears
testimony in connection with making a finding under subsection
[(a)(2)(ii)] (a)(1)(ii)(B), all of the following apply:
(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), the defendant,
the attorney for the defendant and the attorney for the
Commonwealth or, in the case of a civil proceeding, the
attorney for the plaintiff has the right to be present.
(2) If the court observes or questions the child, the
court shall not permit the defendant to be present.
* * *
Section 2. This act shall take effect in 60 days.
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