Advocates provide in-person support to victims through civil, criminal justice systems and campus processes. Our advocates provide in-person support and information about victims’ legal rights and options in multiple settings including:
- Police interviews
- Preliminary hearings
- Hearings and meetings in both Juvenile and Criminal Court
- Options for staying safe and pursuing a civil protection order
- Information and support regarding college, university and elementary and secondary schools policies
- Support with Victim Compensation & Notification
- Compensation is available to victims and their families to help cover out-of-pocket expenses related to a crime. Learn more about what the Pennsylvania Office of the Victim Advocate says about your rights. Contact PAAR at 412-431-5665 to request an application and to receive assistance filing a claim.
- In Pennsylvania, victims have access to free information that allows you to track and receive notifications about the status of offenders. To request assistance with jail notification through PA SAVIN, contact PAAR at 412-431-5665
A Preliminary Hearing is held 3 to 10 days following an arrest. You will be asked to testify in front of a local magistrate. You become a witness for the commonwealth and an Assistant District Attorney (ADA) is assigned to the case.
At the Preliminary Hearing, the magistrate can send the case to the Allegheny County Court for trial OR dismiss the charges.
Cases sent to the Allegheny County Court will have a trial date set. The trial could be set 6 to 12 months after the Preliminary Hearing date. About one month before the trial date, you will meet the ADA at a Pre-Trial Interview.
The case could have continuances and postponements, which lengthen the court process. The defendant has the option to choose a plea bargain or request a trial, which could be held with a jury or just the judge. You will testify in the case along with witnesses as needed. The defendant is found guilty or not guilty of all or some of the charges.
A sentencing date is set about 60 to 90 days following the trial. You have the option to read a Victim Impact Statement and to tell the judge how the crime has impacted your life. You can also tell the court what you think should be included in the sentence.
As a juvenile, the perpetrator may be sent to a detention facility (Shuman Center) until the hearing date or he/she could be released to a parent or guardian with court supervision.
The victim becomes a witness for the Commonwealth and an Assistant District Attorney (ADA) is assigned to the case. About one month before the hearing date, you will meet the ADA at a Pre-Hearing Conference.
The case could have continuances and postponements, which lengthen the court process. Juvenile Court cases are held in front of a judge, with no jury. The victim will testify in the case along with witnesses as needed. The defendant is adjudicated delinquent or found not delinquent of all or some of the charges.
A disposition date is set 60 to 90 days following the hearing. The victim and his/her family have the option to read a Victim Impact Statement and to tell the judge how the crime has impacted their life. You can also tell the court what you think should be included in the disposition.
You may be eligible to file a protection order, which can help ensure your safety if you have experienced sexual violence. Advocates are available to provide support and accompaniment to victims as they navigate this process. To request an advocate or to learn more about protection order options, contact PAAR at 412-431-5665.Types of orders:
Sexual Violence Protection Order (SVPO)
Available to people who have experienced sexual violence. It is not required that the incident be reported to police in order to seek this protection. To be eligible, the plaintiff must not have a “family or household member” relationship with the defendant and should be able to indicate a continued risk of harm.
Protection from Intimidation Order (PFI)
Available to minor children who have experienced intimidation, including harassment and stalking. To be eligible the incident must involve a victim less than 18 years of age and an adult defendant. The minor child must not have a “family or household member” relationship with the defendant. A parent, adult household member, or guardian may seek relief on behalf of minor children.
Protection from Abuse Order (PFA)
Available to people who have experienced violence and have a “family or household member” relationship with the defendant including spouses; ex-spouses; current or former sexual/intimate partners; parents and children; siblings; other people related by blood or marriage.