The proposed amendment, if approved by the electorate, will add a new section to Article I of the Pennsylvania Constitution. That amendment will provide victims of crimes with certain, new constitutional rights that must be protected in the same way as the rights afforded to individuals accused of committing a crime.
The proposed amendment defines “victim” as both a person against whom the criminal act was committed and any person who was directly harmed by it. The accused or any person a court decides is not acting in the best interest of a victim cannot be a victim.
Generally, the proposed amendment would grant victims the constitutional right to receive notice and be present and speak at public proceedings involving the alleged criminal conduct. It would also grant victims the constitutional right to receive notice of any escape or release of the accused and the right to have their safety and the safety of their family considered in setting the amount of bail and other release conditions. It would also create several other new constitutional rights, such as the right to timely restitution and return of property, the right to refuse to answer questions asked by the accused, and the right to speak with a government attorney.
The amendment, though receiving a majority YES vote, was ruled by the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court as violating the separate-vote requirements for constitutional amendments as it proposed several amendments in violation of the state[More...]