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Victims Bill of Rights

Your Rights as a Crime Victim

You have rights as a victim of crime. In addition, there are standards of service that you can expect to receive as a victim of crime. The standards help ensure that you receive information, practical and emotional support, and are able to participate fully in the criminal justice system. These standards were created to make sure that you are treated with dignity and respect at all times, regardless of your gender, age, marital status, race, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, disability or religion.

Your rights will be provided to you by several different agencies, which include a state or local law enforcement agency, the prosecutor’s office, local correctional facility, Board of Probation and Parole, the juvenile probation office or the Department of Public Welfare. Who provides specific notifications to you depends on where the case is in the criminal or juvenile justice system. There are some rights that you will need to request in order for them to be provided to you. Some of your rights are listed below:

You have the right to be told:

  • about basic services available to you in your county
  • about certain court events, including information on bail, escape of offender, release of an offender
  • about the details of the final disposition of a case

You have the right to receive:

  • notice of the arrest of the offender
  • information about restitution and assistance with compensation
  • accompaniment to all criminal proceedings by a family member, a victim advocate or a support person

You have the right to provide input:

  • into the sentencing decision and to receive help in preparing an oral and/or written victim impact statement
  • into post sentencing decisions 

Your Detailed Rights as a Crime Victim

As a victim of crime you have the following rights:

  • To be provided with basic information on available services;
  • You will be told about certain significant actions within the justice system pertaining to your case. This includes the granting or denial of bail to an adult offender, the detention or release of a juvenile, the filing of a petition alleging delinquency, and the escape and subsequent apprehension of an adult prior to trial or a juvenile prior to adjudication;
  • To be accompanied at all proceedings by a family member, a victim advocate or other support person;
  • To give prior comment on the sentencing decision regarding an adult offender or the disposition of a delinquent child;
  • To receive help in preparing an oral and/or written victim impact statement detailing the physical, psychological and economic effects of the crime, which will be considered by the courts;
  • To be restored as you were before the crime, as much as possible, through restitution and to receive assistance with preparing, submitting and follow-up with a claim for compensation;
  • To be notified of an adult offender’s transfer from a state prison to a mental health facility and the discharge, transfer or escape of the adult offender from that facility;
  • To receive immediate notice of the release of an adult offender on bail who is incarcerated in a local prison for a violation of a Protection From Abuse (PFA) order, or for a personal injury crime committed against the victim protected by the PFA;
  • To have property returned that was seized as evidence, but is no longer needed for prosecution;
  • To have notice and to provide prior comment on a judicial recommendation that the defendant participate in a motivational boot camp;
  • To have notice and provide comment on re-sentencing decisions regarding an offender;
  • To have notice and provide prior comment on prosecutor’s waiver of eligibility requirement of an offender to enter the Recidivism Risk Reduction Incentive (RRRI) Program;
  • To be notified and provide comment 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;
  • To be present at trials and the execution of an offender; and 
  • To receive notice of the arrest of a defendant for violating a PFA order.
  • Victims of personal injury crimes have the additional right:
  • To receive notice of the arrest of a suspect or the filing or forwarding of a complaint relating to the crime;
  • By your request, to receive notice when an adult offender is released from incarceration at sentencing;
  • To receive notice of an opportunity to give prior comment on and receive post-sentencing decisions involving an offender's release from a state prison, such as medical release, work release, furlough, parole, pardon or community treatment center placement;
  • To receive notice of and provide prior comment on recommendations sought by the Department of Corrections that an offender may participate in a motivational boot camp;
  • To receive notice of the release of an adult offender from a local correctional facility, including work release, medical release, furlough, parole, release from a boot camp or community treatment center placement;
  • To receive immediate notice of the escape of an adult offender and subsequent apprehension;
  • By your request, to receive notice of the filing, hearing or disposition of appeals;
  • To receive notice of the commitment to a mental health institution from a state or local correctional institution;
  • To receive notice of the termination of the courts’ jurisdiction;
  • To provide prior comment on work release or medical release of an offender from a state prison or local correctional facility; and 
  • To give prior comment on the potential reduction or dropping of charges or any changes of a plea in a criminal or delinquency proceeding or diversion of a case, including an informal adjustment or a consent decree.

Victims of personal injury/burglary crimes have the additional right:

  • To give prior comment on the potential reduction or dropping of charges or any changes of a plea in a criminal or delinquency proceeding or diversion of a case, including an informal adjustment or a consent decree.

Victims of personal injury crime committed by a juvenile have the additional right:

  • By your request, to receive notice prior to the release of a juvenile from residential placement, a shelter facility, or a detention center;
  • By your request, to be notified and have the opportunity to submit a written objection prior to the transfer or release from a placement facility of a juvenile who has been adjudicated delinquent, when such action is contrary to a previous court order or placement plan approved at a disposition review hearing;
  • By your request, to be given immediate notice of a juvenile’s escape from residential placement, a shelter facility or a detention center and subsequent apprehension;
  • By your request, to be given immediate notice of a juvenile’s escape from residential placement, a shelter facility or a detention center and subsequent apprehension; and
  • By your request, to submit written comment and oral testimony at a disposition review hearing.

Victims of crime committed by a juvenile have the additional right:

  • To receive prior notice of delinquency hearings and notification of hearings about the transfer of a juvenile to and from criminal proceedings; and
  • To receive notice of the details of the final disposition of a juvenile’s case.

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