Senate Passes Measure to Allow Expert Witnesses in Cases of Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking

This week the State Senate approved a bill sponsored by Senator Wayne Langerholc, Jr. (R-35) that would allow expert witnesses in cases of domestic violence and human trafficking.

Langerholc said Senate Bill 1170 would amend the Judicial Code to permit the Commonwealth to call expert witnesses in court cases involving domestic violence and human trafficking in order to provide a clearer picture of the crime and how it impacts victims and affects their behavior.

Langerholc said the state judicial code currently allows expert witnesses to testify in cases of sexual violence about the dynamics of the crime, the victim’s response and the impact of sexual violence on victims both during and after the assault.

“These types of expert witnesses have been crucial to helping jurors understand the tremendous trauma that a sexual assault can have on a victim and how that trauma can affect their behavior and their overall health,” Langerholc said.  “Seeing how valuable these experts have been to providing justice to victims of sexual assault, and the links between the three crimes, I believe these expert witnesses should also be permitted in cases of domestic violence and human trafficking.”

In the last 10 years, more than 1,600 people have died from domestic violence-related incidents in Pennsylvania. In 2019, 112 victims lost their lives to domestic violence in Pennsylvania.

Human trafficking is the second-largest criminal enterprise in the world and it has taken root in Pennsylvania. In 2017, 210 human trafficking cases were reported in the state. The number jumped to 275 in 2018. Within the first six months of 2019, Pennsylvania had 126 reported cases of human trafficking.

CONTACT: Gwenn Dando

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