HARRISBURG – In a unanimous vote Wednesday, the Senate passed legislation that guarantees crime victims access to court proceedings.
Sponsored by Rep. John Hershey (R-Franklin/Juniata/Mifflin), House Bill 502 would ensure victims have the right to attend proceedings unless a judge determines the victim’s testimony in proceedings could be affected by what he or she hears.
Currently, the prosecution, defense or judge can request a witness or victim be excluded from court proceedings, preventing this person from hearing testimony from other witnesses.
The bill would require that any exclusion 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.
“I thank the Senate for seeing the value in this proposal and for passing the bill 50-0. Victims deserve to be active participants in the criminal justice process to stay informed about what is happening and to work toward closure. They need to be given an opportunity to face their abusers if they choose to,” Hershey said.
House Bill 502
now goes to Gov. Tom Wolf for his signature to become law.
Representative John Hershey
82nd Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Jennifer Fitch