Crime Victim Rights
Under Pennsylvania law, an individual possesses certain rights as the victim in a criminal case. It is important that crime victims know their rights and understand that it is their responsibility to exercise those rights when necessary. Victims are strongly advised to review the entire Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights, as well as other important information provided by Pennsylvania’s Office of the Victim Advocate. Different victim rights attach during the various stages of a criminal prosecution:
DURING THE POLICE INVESTIGATION
The right to be informed that you have rights as a victim as soon as is reasonable.
UPON THE SUSPECT’S ARREST
The right to be reasonably protected from the defendant throughout the criminal justice process. The right to keep your address and phone number from the defendant. The right to be informed of criminal charges.
BEFORE THE TRIAL
The right to a court hearing if you are intimidated or harassed by the criminal defendant. The right to refuse an interview or other request for information by the defendant, the defendant’s lawyer or any other person acting on behalf of the defendant. The right to be told the identity of the defendant’s lawyer and that you do not have to speak with him/her. The right to refuse your deposition (formal legal statement).
The right to be informed of critical court dates and hearings and any changes thereto. The right to be consulted about plea negotiations if the crime charged is a violent felony. The right to be present, be heard at and, upon specific request, to be informed in advance of any critical stage of the proceedings where the defendant is present including the trial. The right to obtain a copy of the written record of court proceedings.
DURING THE SENTENCING HEARING
The right to personally express your opinions to the Court at sentencing or have the Assistant District Attorney or other counsel present your opinions. The right to a restitution Order for out-of pocket expenses incurred due to the defendant’s criminal conduct. The right to know the actual sentence that the defendant will serve.
The right to receive prompt restitution from the defendant, if ordered. The right to be notified of and appear at any hearing before the State Parole Board (upon request). The right to be notified 30 days before a defendant criminal is released from prison (upon request).
Additional Resources PA Office of Victim Services https://pcv.pccd.pa.gov/Pages/default.aspx
Link to Megan’s Law Offender Information (https://www.pameganslaw.state.pa.us/)
SAVIN – Pennsylvania’s Victim Notification System (SAVIN) was created by the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Institute to assist victims of crime. SAVIN is a free, confidential and automated service that helps track the status of any offender housed in a county jail or state prison within Pennsylvania. SAVIN allows Pennsylvania residents to receive real-time information about an inmate’s custody status regarding release, transfer or escape.