Victims of crime are impacted in many ways including physical injury, emotional pain and suffering, and financial loss. Providing a voice for victims in the criminal/ juvenile justice process and connecting them with meaningful advocacy and services can be an important part of the healing process, allowing them to transcend their victimization. The Crime Victims Act provides victims of crime the following rights listed below. Local agencies receive funding to ensure these rights and services are delivered. Based on the individual's needs and preferences, services may be provided by governmental agencies such as the county victim/ witness offices, local non-profit organizations such as local rape crisis and domestic violence centers, legal service agencies, agencies serving homicide survivors and children's advocacy centers.
Victims of crime have the following rights:
- To be provided with basic information on available services;
- To be told about certain significant actions within the justice pertaining to the victims' 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 receive information of the availability of crime victim's compensation;
- To be notified of the Address Confidentiality Program if eligible to apply;
- To not be excluded from a criminal proceeding unless the court, based on the record before it, determines that testimony by the victim would be materially altered if the victim heard other testimony at the proceeding.
- To offer comment regarding a defendant's bail conditions at the time bail conditions are imposed or at any subsequent proceeding where bail conditions may be modified.
- 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 one was before the crime as much as possible, through restitution, have property returned that was seized as evidence but no longer needed for prosecution, 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, Sexual Violence Protection Order (SVPO), or Protection From Intimidation (PFI) order ,or for a personal injury crime committed against the victim protected by the order;
- 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 resentencing decisions regarding an offender;
- To be notified of the disposition and sentence of an adult, including sentence modifications;
- 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 court considers an offender to be eligible for participation in the State Drug Treatment Program;
- To receive pre-parole notifications 90 days prior to parole date of offender;
- To submit pre-parole statements regarding offender's parole supervision, including suggestions of special conditions, submit written petition to deny parole, and to appear in person or through representation to provide testimony before parole panel;
- Receive notice of the parole board's decision before the offender's release.
- 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 rights:
- To receive notice of the arrest of a suspect or the filing or forwarding of a complaint relating to the crime;
- By the victim's 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 notice of, including location and time, a dispositional proceeding, if the prosecutor's office has advance notice of said proceeding;
- To receive immediate notice of the escape of an adult offender and subsequent apprehension;
- By the victim's 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 sexual assault have the additional rights:
- To receive information concerning the availability of protection orders;
- To have the confidential support of a counselor from a rape crisis center at the hospital during and after a forensic rape exam. (call 1-888-772-7227 to contact a local rape crisis center);
- To have a sexual assault evidence kit collected and tested anonymously/without a name attached to it;
- To have a sexual assault evidence kit collected and tested even if the exact location of the crime cannot be provided;
- To not be billed or charged for the costs of a forensic exam or sexual assault evidence kit;
- To have sexual assault evidence kept according to the statute of limitations; and
- To be notified of the status of a sexual assault evidence kit, if requested, including at least 60 days prior to the destruction of evidence.
Victims of personal injury crime committed by a juvenile have the additional rights:
- By the victim's request, to receive notice prior to the release of a juvenile from residential placement, a shelter facility, or a detention center;
- By the victim's 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 the victim's 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 the victim's request, to submit written comment and oral testimony at a disposition review hearing.
Victims of crime committed by a juvenile have the additional rights:
- 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.
Services for Crime Victims/Survivors
Victim Service Programs
The Office of Victims Services assists crime victims transcend their trauma by funding victim service agencies that work directly with victims and collaborate with criminal justice and allied professionals who advocate and respond to the needs of victims. Please click here
to obtain information on victim service providers in your county.
The Victims Compensation Assistance Program helps victims/survivors and their families through the emotional and physical aftermath of a crime by easing the financial impact placed upon them by the crime. Victims/survivors of crime will always be treated with dignity, compassion, and respect when being assisted through the Victims Compensation claim process.
Victims may be eligible to receive financial help from the Victims Compensation Assistance Program for a variety of expenses, such as medical and counseling expenses, loss of earnings, loss of support, stolen cash, relocation, funeral, or crime scene cleanup.
PA SAVIN provides access to information and notification about the status of offenders in County Jails, State Prisons or on State Parole. This automated service is available to registrants over the phone, through the internet, or on the app known as VineLink.
The PA Office of the Victim Advocate (OVA) is responsible for services and notifications to crime victims/survivors at the state level. OVA's victim services include post sentencing notifications of offender status and movements within the PA Department of Corrections (DOC) and the parole system. Crime victims/survivors are eligible for registration at the time an offender is sentenced to state incarceration or supervision. Registered
victims/survivors will be notified if/when the offender:
- becomes parole eligible
- is considered for any release program
- escapes - and is recaptured
- transfers to a state mental health facility
- writes an apology letter
- applies for clemency (pardon or commutation)
The Address Confidentiality Program (ACP)
The Address Confidentiality Program (ACP) provides victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking or stalking with an alternate mailing address to keep their actual home address out of public records where their perpetrator may find their location.
ACP is designed to be part of an overall safety plan for victims who are planning to move or have recently moved to a location unknown to the perpetrator.
*ACP is not a witness protection program