In Pennsylvania, crime victims have rights.
Rights are provided to crime victims by several different agencies, which include a state or local law enforcement agency, the prosecutor's office, local correctional facility, local victim service agencies, the PA Office of Victim Advocate, the juvenile probation office or the PA Department of Human Services. Each entity provides specific notifications depending on where the case is in the criminal or juvenile justice system. Some of your rights are listed below.
You have the right to be told about…
- basic services available to you in your county
- court events, including information on bail, escape/release of offender, preliminary hearings, trials, guilty pleas, sentencing etc.
- 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 a verbal and/or written victim impact statement
- post-sentencing decisions, including parole consideration, pardons and clemency, medical or compassionate release
Many of these rights are part of the Pennsylvania Crime Victims Act (18 P.S. § 11.101) (pdf). Other rights may only be available to victims of personal injury crimes. While some rights may only be available when the crime is committed by a juvenile offender.
For many of the available rights, the victim does not have to do anything, other than to report the crime. There are a number of rights that the victim must ask to receive at the local level with a local victim advocate, prosecutor or law enforcement agency.
In order to receive the range of rights available post-sentencing (ie anything that occurs after the sentencing is complete and the offender is serving under a state prison or parole sentence), registration with OVA must occur.
Parole Comment Rights
If registered with OVA, victims/survivors have the right to provide comments (in person, in writing, or verbally over the phone) to the PA Parole Board or the Board of Pardons.
If you feel your rights as a crime victim have been violated, please submit this form (also available in Spanish) to OVA and a Victim Assistance Coordinator will get in contact with you.
In PA, Marsy's Law is working to amend the PA Constitution to extend legal standing or legal remedy for a victims' rights violation. Get involved in the initiative by contacting Marsy's Law for PA through their website.
Read more about the juvenile justice system in PA.
Learn more about why crime victims' rights matter from the National Crime Victim Law Institute.