– Crime victims should have access to relevant police investigation files when they attempt to sue the criminal through the civil justice system. That’s the argument behind a bill local state Rep. Aaron Kaufer (R-Luzerne) introduced in the state House in Harrisburg.
“The current law does too much to protect criminals and not enough to empower crime victims,” Kaufer said.
Pennsylvania’s Criminal History Record Information Act was adopted in January 1980 and significantly restricts the information that law enforcement can release to a crime victim relevant to the investigation that led to the criminal’s arrest.
The inability to access that information can severely hamstring a crime victim’s effort to seek fair and reasonable compensation through the civil justice system.
Crime victims often receive little or no restitution through the criminal justice system. They often must file a lawsuit through the civil justice system to recoup costs they’ve incurred associated with the crime they suffered.
Kaufer’s bill would authorize the release of the information to the crime victims solely for the purpose of filing a civil lawsuit.
“My bill is about empowering crime victims by giving them access to the information they need to have a fair shot in the civil justice system,” Kaufer said. “Without this information, many crime victims may never have their day in civil court.”
Kaufer’s proposal includes commonsense exemptions, such as when releasing the information would threaten a person or public safety, or if it would jeopardize another police investigation. The measure also would prohibit the release of the information if it would cause substantial emotional distress to a victim of child abuse, domestic abuse or sexual abuse.
Kaufer’s initiative has been introduced as House Bill 2525
More information about Kaufer is available at RepKaufer.com
and on Facebook at Facebook.com/RepKaufer