HARRISBURG – State Rep. Tracy Pennycuick’s (R-Montgomery) legislation to give victims of serious crimes a greater voice in the bail determinations of the accused was passed by the House Judiciary Committee today and sent to the full House for consideration.
House Bill 2039
would require a victim of a crime of violence to be notified of any proceeding in which conditions for bail for a defendant can be modified.
“I authored this bill after a constituent told me of a situation in which a man was arrested on child pornography charges, and on his computer were photos of a 9-year-old child who lives next door to him,” said Pennycuick. “If the parents of that child knew of the neighbor’s bail hearing they could have made a statement and given further information about the dangers of the neighbor living in such close proximity. Instead, bail was set without the parents knowing and the defendant is now back home living next to the child he victimized while awaiting trial.
“This type of situation is appalling to me. We need to better empower crime victims and strengthen their rights, instead of always focusing on the rights and treatment of the defendants,” continued Pennycuick.
Specifically, her bill would require that an arresting officer provide the contact information of the victim to the magisterial district court conducting a preliminary arraignment to ensure the victim has notice of any proceedings that might change the conditions of bail.
“This would enable the victim to appear at the proceeding and give input on the defendant’s bail if they chose,” said Pennycuick. “In many cases, victims of crimes of violence may have relevant and important information to present to the court to assist it in making an appropriate bail determination. My bill would ensure that victims of some of the most serious types of crimes have a voice before a dangerous defendant’s bail is modified or reduced.”
Pennycuick noted the bill would apply to personal injury crimes; crimes of violence; the sexual abuse of children; and the sexual exploitation of children.
Representative Tracy Pennycuick
147th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Tricia Lehman