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PA District Attorneys Association Urges Passage of Strangulation Law to Better Protect Victims

Harrisburg, PA  — Strangulation is a violent crime, and the law should fully recognize this dangerous form of physical violence the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association (PDAA) said today.  Legislation that would codify the existing crime of strangulation into Pennsylvania law passed the state House yesterday. The PDAA urges the Senate to take action on the bill this spring.

“Strangulation is one of the most dangerous crimes,” said PDAA President and Butler County District Attorney Richard A. Goldinger. “Pennsylvania needs this bill because it will help better protect some of our most vulnerable victims of crime.”

HB 854 would ensure that a prior strangulation conviction is recognized and considered upon the occurrence of subsequent related events and judicial procedures.  In doing so, the violent crime of strangulation would be fully codified into Pennsylvania law and prosecutors would be permitted to provide juries and judges with a complete accounting of an accused perpetrator’s known violent tendencies. It was only as recently as 2016 that strangulation was added to the Pennsylvania crimes code as a primary offense.

“Too often strangulation is the weapon of choice against children and the elderly, human trafficking victims, domestic violence victims and sex workers, and too often it is lethal,” Goldinger said. “This legislation would ensure that strangulation convictions are recognized in law the same way that convictions for equally violent offenses, like aggravated assault, are recognized.

Before the 2016 change, it was extremely difficult to arrest and prosecute people accused of strangling their victims.  While strangulation is extremely dangerous and can result in unconsciousness within seconds and death within minutes, there is often no visible physical injury.  Without this proof, prosecutors were often left with a low-level misdemeanor offense that does not reflect the gravity of the crime and leaves the victim vulnerable to further abuse.

PDAA thanked the bill’s sponsor, Representative Torren C. Ecker and the House Judiciary chairs, Representatives Rob Kauffman (R) and Tim Briggs (D) for the leadership that resulted in an overwhelming majority vote (188-10) in the House.  The bill now moves to the Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration.

PDAA is joined by the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence (PCADV and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR) in support of the bill. HB 854 is one of several victim-centered bills supported by the PDAA, including reforms to the rape shield and tender years laws, and Marsy’s Law, a bill that would elevate victims’ rights to the Pennsylvania constitution.


Contact: Lindsay Vaughan, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association or (717) 238-5416.

Informational Hearing on Sexual Extortion Before the House Judiciary Committee March 26, 2019

Testimony of Greg Rowe , Director of Legislation & Policy, Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association and Sean McCormack, Chief Deputy District Attorney, Dauphin County District Attorney’s Office. Click here to download the official testimony. Good morning Chairmen Kauffman and Briggs and members of the House Judiciary Committee.  We are pleased to be here today to discuss the creation of a new crime of sexual extortion. 

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PDAA Appoints Lindsay E. Vaughan New Executive Director

Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association (PDAA) today announced that Lindsay E. Vaughan has been appointed its new executive director. Her first day on the job will be Thursday, March 7, 2019. Vaughan assumes the role after PDAA’s previous executive director, Richard Long, was appointed Chief Counsel to the Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board. “Lindsay shares our vision that improving the

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Life-saving PFA Firearms Bill Backed by PDAA Passes the House

The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association congratulates the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for overwhelmingly passing legislation that will disarm domestic abusers. In a bipartisan vote today, the House approved legislation by Representative Marguerite Quinn (R-143) H.B. 2060, which will require the surrender of firearms belonging to those whom final protection from abuse orders have been ordered. The bill will also limit

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The Pennsylvania Supreme Court should permit the Office of Attorney General to release the grand jury report on several Catholic dioceses without undue delay in accordance with the law.  Relatedly, we are troubled about attempts to fundamentally alter and undermine Pennsylvania’s grand jury process. Grand juries serve an important investigative purpose and, in the past, have exposed institutional and governmental

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Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Institute (PDAI) announced today that Lebanon County District Attorney David J. Arnold has been elected president to lead the organization during the 2018–2019 business year. The election took place during the institution’s annual business meeting. The new officers are: President:                  Hon. David J. Arnold, Jr., Lebanon County District Attorney Vice President:         Hon. John T. Adams, Berks

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  Harrisburg, PA – Today, the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association (PDAA) announced its newly elected officers for the 2018–2019 business year. The election took place during the Association’s annual business meeting. The new officers are: President:                  Hon. Richard A. Goldinger, Butler County District Attorney Vice President:        Hon. Raymond J. Tonkin, Pike County District Attorney Secretary/Treasurer:  Hon. Michael Piecuch, Snyder County District Attorney “Prosecutors are committed

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Pennsylvania Prosecutors Issue Response to Joint State Government Report on the Death Penalty

HARRISBURG, PA − Pennsylvania’s prosecutors today said the long-overdue report by the Joint State Government Commission on the death penalty covers little new ground and glosses over important findings that fail to fit the narrative that death penalty opponents had hoped would be revealed. PDAA’s complete response to the Report may be found here. “The report couldn’t produce the system-wide indictment death penalty

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Response to the Joint State Government Commission’s Report on Capital Punishment in Pennsylvania: The Report of the Task Force and Advisory Committee

I. OVERVIEW Nearly seven years ago, the Pennsylvania Senate passed a Resolution tasking the Joint State Government Commission of the General Assembly with the responsibility of examining capital punishment in Pennsylvania. Individuals were selected as Advisory Committee Members and over the years worked to develop a report. The Advisory Committee was made up largely of death penalty opponents. The Senate Resolution

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Absent broad perspective, intellectual honesty and concept of balanced justice, PA District Attorneys say report on capital punishment will carry no weight. HARRISBURG, PA – The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association (PDAA) today provided a first response to a long-overdue report on the death penalty issued by a panel largely comprised of anti-death penalty advocates.  PDAA President John T. Adams said the

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