|By State Rep. Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne)
A number of bills have been signed into law that help to support crime victims in Pennsylvania and ensure justice is served.
The House of Representatives focused heavily on these issues in April during a month-long effort to make improvements to the state’s crime victim protection laws.
The new laws signed recently by Gov. Tom Wolf include:
- Act 21 of 2019, which criminalizes the act of female genital mutilation by making it a first-degree felony.
- Act 23 of 2019, which ensures a victim is permitted to be present in any criminal proceeding unless the court determines the victim's own testimony would be altered by hearing other witnesses.
- Act 24 of 2019, which helps protect victims of rape by preventing prosecutors from bringing up the victim's sexual history or prior allegations of sexual abuse while prosecuting certain crimes.
- Act 29 of 2019, which makes updates to the Sexual Assault Testing and Evidence Collection Act, including requiring the Pennsylvania State Police to create procedures for anonymous victims and establishing timelines for submitting, testing and storing rape kits.
- Acts 30 and 31 of 2019, which expand the circumstances under which out-of-court statements may be used by including victims and witnesses with intellectual disabilities or autism spectrum disorder (Act 30) and adding new crimes to the list that allows such statements made by a child under age 12.
In addition to these new laws, the General Assembly has approved a proposed constitutional amendment to include a Victim’s Bill of Rights in the Pennsylvania Constitution. Voters will have the opportunity to approve the proposed amendment in the upcoming November election.
Representative Tarah Toohil
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Contact: Rep. Toohil’s Office