House Bill 1947 Overhauls PA Child Sex Crime Laws | Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys

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House Bill 1947 Overhauls PA Child Sex Crime Laws

Pennsylvania took historic steps last month toward reforming its child sex crime laws through House Bill 1947. Following the shocking news of systemic child sex abuse by religious leaders within the Roman Catholic Altoona-Johnstown Diocese, and recently approved by both the House and the Senate, HB 1947 would make it easier for survivors of child abuse to hold perpetrators and institutions accountable for committing child sex crimes. If HB 1947 is signed into law, Pennsylvania will join the ranks of numerous other states that have overhauled their sex crime laws in light of child sex abuse scandals.

At Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC, we know that child sex abuse is a serious crime that can be punishable by hefty fines and decades of incarceration. Our experienced Pittsburgh criminal defense attorneys have helped countless individuals navigate the Pennsylvania criminal justice system and have defended them against all types of sex crime charges. If HB 1947 is signed into law, its proposed changes could have a major impact on the way Pennsylvania sex crimes are handled.

What This Means for Survivors and Perpetrators

Child sex abuse has become a hot topic in Pennsylvania after a three-month grand jury investigation found that the systemic sexual abuse of hundreds of children occurred at the hands of leaders within the Roman Catholic Altoona-Johnstown Diocese. In the wake of the case, HB 1947 seeks to overhaul many of Pennsylvania’s existing sex crime laws relating to child sexual abuse, specifically by:

  • Eliminating the statute of limitations for most child sex crimes—survivors would be able to file criminal charges against a perpetrator at any time, without being limited by time
  • Lengthening the time frame for filing civil suits—survivors of child sexual abuse would now have until age 50, rather than age 30, to file a civil suit against a perpetrator
  • Removing sovereign immunity for state crimes—under HB 1947, the state would not be immune from civil or criminal prosecution relating to matters of child abuse

Pros and Cons of House Bill 1947

Those in favor of HB 1947 see it as a historic step toward toughening and strengthening Pennsylvania’s child sex crime laws. Proponents argue that the bill makes it easier for survivors to file charges against perpetrators and institutions and gives them more time to do so.

However, those against the bill say it doesn’t go far enough. By failing to allow adults whose statute of limitation has expired to seek recourse retroactively, hundreds of survivors would lose the opportunity to file charges and, as a result, many perpetrators—including those in the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese case—wouldn’t be charged.

Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC Can Help You

Being charged with a sex crime in Pennsylvania can be a shocking experience, especially in cases where you’ve been charged following a statewide investigation. If you’ve been charged with a sex crime, consider consulting with a skilled Pittsburgh criminal defense attorney today.

At Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC we have years of experience helping individuals facing sex crime charges and can look at the evidence brought against you to help you weigh your options. For a free, initial consultation of your case, call us at (412) 281-2146 today.