Victim Rights and Input

Basic Bill of Rights for Victims

If you are a victim of crime in Pennsylvania, you have the right:

  • To receive basic information on services available for victims of crime.
  • To be notified of certain significant actions and proceedings within the criminal system including information regarding the grant or denial of bail and immediate notice of pretrial escape from a local correctional facility and subsequent apprehension.
  • To be accompanied to all criminal proceedings by a family member, victim advocate or other person providing assistance or support.
  • In personal injury crimes or burglaries, to submit prior comment to the prosecutor’s office on the potential reduction or dropping of a charge or changing of a plea in a criminal proceeding.
  • To have the opportunity to offer prior comment on the sentencing of a defendant, to include the submission of a written or oral victim impact statement detailing the physical, psychological and economic effects of the crime on the victim & the victim’s family.
  • To be notified if the court recommends that the offender goes to “boot camp” and to be given an opportunity to submit prior comment on that recommendation.
  • To be restored, to the extent possible, to the pre-crime economic status through restitution, compensation through the Victims’ Compensation Assistance Program and the expeditious return of property which is seized as evidence.
  • In personal injury crimes where the defendant is sentenced to a state correctional institution, to be given the opportunity to provide prior comment on and notice of post-sentencing release decisions, including furlough, parole, pardon or community treatment center placement & to be immediately notified of an escape & subsequent apprehension.
  • In personal injury crimes where the defendant is sentenced to a local correctional facility, to receive notice of the release of an offender, including work release, furlough, parole or community treatment center placement and immediate notice of the escape and subsequent apprehension of such offender.
  • If the offender is subject to a protection from abuse order (PFA) and is committed to a local correctional facility, to receive immediate notice of release on bail.
  • To receive notice when an offender is transferred from a state correctional institution to a mental health facility and of the discharge, transfer or escape of the offender from the mental health facility.
  • To have assistance in the preparation of, submission of and follow-up on financial assistance claims to the Victims Compensation Assistance Program (VCAP).
  • Upon request of the victim of a personal injury crime, to be notified of the termination of the courts’ jurisdiction.

A victim of crime also has the right:

  • To attend an execution. You must first register with the Office of the Victim Advocate and be chosen to attend.
  • To attend a trial and watch the proceedings, unless otherwise directed by the court

A victim has the responsibility to provide a valid address and telephone number and any other required information to all agencies responsible for providing information and notice to victims. The victim shall also be responsible for providing timely notice of any changes in status of information. The information provided shall not be disclosed to any person other than a law enforcement agency, corrections agency or prosecutor’s office without the prior written consent of the victim.