Legislation Information

Federal - U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Violence Against Women

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PA Bill Protects Domestic Violence Victims from Eviction

In October 2014, Pennsylvania legislators passed a bill ensuring that victims of domestic violence are not evicted from their residences for calling emergency services multiple times.

The bill negates a controversial provision contained in “nuisance ordinances’’ enforced in dozens of Pennsylvania communities, requiring landlords to evict tenants from residences where 9-1-1 has been called several times in a brief period, usually three times in 12 months.

Rep. Todd Stephens (R-Montgomery County) sponsored the bill in reaction to a case in Norristown, PA. A woman – who was assaulted by an ex-partner who had repeatedly broken into her residence – nearly bled to death because she feared eviction if she called 9-1-1 again. She survived after a neighbor called for assistance. Stephens’ bill passed unanimously in the House in March, but it had stalled in the Senate because of attempts by senators to attach unrelated amendments. Senators finally voted to consider only Stephens’ bill.

PA Passes Bill Criminalizing Intimate Partner Sexual Harassment on Internet

In July 2014, Pennsylvania joined a dozen other states in enacting legislation that made intimate partner sexual harassment a crime.

Intimate partner harassment is a term often referring to the posting of nude or sexually explicit photographs or videos of people online without their consent, even if the photograph itself was taken with consent. A current or former spouse, girlfriend, or boyfriend may get revenge or seek to regain control of a victim by uploading photographs to websites, many of which are set up specifically for these kinds of photos or videos. The victim’s name, address, and links to social media profiles are often included with the images, and some websites charge a fee to have the materials removed.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Thomas Murt (R-Montgomery County), defines this crime as exposing a photograph, film, videotape, or similar recording of the identifiable image of an intimate partner who is nude or explicitly engaged in a sexual act to the view of a third party for no legitimate purpose and with the intent to harass, annoy, or alarm the person depicted. In Pennsylvania, this crime is a felony for depicting a minor and misdemeanor for a non-minor. The bill also grants victims the right to seek damages in civil courts.