Gov. Tom Wolf today signed legislation that guarantees crime victims access to court proceedings in their cases.
Sponsored by Rep. John Hershey (R-Franklin/Juniata/Mifflin), the new law ensures victims have the right to attend proceedings unless a judge determines the victim’s future testimony could be affected by what he or she hears.
Hershey’s House Bill 502 is now Act 23 of 2019
. It amends the Crime Victims Act.
“I thank the Senate for recognizing the value in this legislation and passing it unanimously. I am also grateful the governor quickly signed the bill so that we can empower crime victims who want to face their perpetrators in a courtroom,” Hershey said. “It is a good day in Pennsylvania when we can support people who may be in the most vulnerable time of their lives.”
Before Act 23, the prosecution, defense or judge could request a witness or victim be excluded from court proceedings, preventing him or her from hearing other witnesses.
Any exclusion must now be stated in the court record, and a judge must make every effort to notify a victim that he or she has the right to attend the trial.
“The support shown to this bill, the feedback I’ve received and the buy-in from stakeholders tell me that these guarantees to victims needed to be formalized into law,” Hershey said.
Representative John Hershey
82nd Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Jennifer Fitch