ACLU-PA Position: Opposes
HB 2039 would amend the Pennsylvania Crime Victims Act to require that alleged victims are notified of and have an opportunity to comment at bail hearings. Currently, alleged victims already have the right to information regarding the grant or denial of bail to a defendant. They do not, however, have the right to participate at bail modification or determination hearings—and for good reason.
Expanding the rights of alleged victims to participate at the earliest stages of the criminal process would create delays in bail hearings, causing defendants to be incarcerated longer. And changes to bail procedures would allow bail hearings to be treated more like criminal trials. HB 2039 would permit alleged victims to offer prejudicial testimony and prosecutors and police officers to introduce hearsay evidence on behalf of the alleged victim(s) if they are not present at the hearing. Permitting this kind of prejudicial information at this stage of the process would unduly influence bail determinations, deprive defendants of their due process rights, and undermine the presumption that the defendant is innocent until proven guilty.