The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ordered judges to allow police officers to testify in initial court hearing of property crimes, instead of having to hear from victims.
According to the current rules, victims of crimes have to appear and testify at a hearing in Municipal Court that an item he or she owned was stolen and that no permission was given to the accused to take the property. If a judge then decides in the initial hearing that there is enough evidence, the case is sent to Common Pleas Court for a full trial in which the victim must attend.
Under the new rule scheduled to take effect in 30 days, police officers may verify in the preliminary hearing that property was actually stolen, sparing victims repeated court appearances and delays in the court system.
To see a video of the announcement from State Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffery check out WHYY’s Tom MacDonald’s report.
For the full story on the rule change and how it may ease the process of testifying for victims see Philadelphia Inquirer’s Nancy Phillips and Craig R. McCoy’s report.