Archive for April, 2018

Statement on South Philly Dog Fighting Case

April 23, 2018

PHILADELPHIA (April 23, 2018) — Dog fighting is an extremely serious crime and has no place in our city.  The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office takes incidents of dog fighting and all kinds of animal cruelty very seriously.

Below is a summary of recent activity in a case involving dog fighting in South Philadelphia.

On Friday, April 20th, eight (8) defendants agreed to plead guilty to the charge of neglect of animals in connection to a March 10 raid of a warehouse/garage where dog fighting was occurring. A total of 14 people were arrested as a result of the raid.

The eight (8) defendants who agreed to the plea bargain either had very minor criminal records or no prior record at all. The evidence available against those eight (8) people did nothing to tie them to organizing the event, ownership of the building, or supplying the abused dogs to the fight.

The remaining six (6) defendants have not been offered any plea bargain and remain charged with dog fighting, which is a third-degree felony in Pennsylvania.

Why the different approach for those individuals? The defendants who are charged with a felony either have a substantial criminal record, prior dog fighting offenses, or the evidence in the case shows that they were responsible for organizing this dog fight. Those defendants were given no plea offer at all- they will face a preliminary hearing on June 5th for felony dog fighting.

It should also be noted that securing earlier guilty pleas for some defendants allowed the Judge assigned to the case to sign an order relinquishing the dogs to the custody of the SPCA where they can be rehabilitated and adopted. Otherwise, the dogs seized as part of this raid might have been forced to stay in a shelter for months or even years until the owners are convicted and forced to relinquish custody. That was a major positive outcome as a result of these early pleas.

We should also be clear that a summary conviction for neglect of animals is not the equivalent of a traffic ticket—it is a criminal conviction that will be part of the record of each offender. It does carry a fine instead of jail time, but can only be expunged after 5 years without any other criminal convictions. It certainly would appear on any background check. It could prevent them from adopting a pet or even gaining employment in any capacity involving animals. The plea bargain also required each defendant to pay restitution to the SPCA for the care of the abused dogs.

The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office will continue to aggressively prosecute these cases with the goal of securing the best possible outcome. In this case, we felt pursuing charges in this manner was the best approach.

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DA Krasner Creates Crime Victims’ Advisory Committee

April 6, 2018

PHILADELPHIA (March 6, 2018) – In celebration of Crime Victims’ Rights Week, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner today announced the creation of a Crime Victims’ Advisory Committee (CVAC). The CVAC will not only empower witnesses and victims to improve the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office’s (DAO) victim and witness services, but will work to eliminate the trauma felt by crime victims and witnesses.

District Attorney Larry Krasner said, “In each one of the hundreds of cases the District Attorney’s Office works on each day, there is one thing in common, they all have witnesses and victims. So, as we get ready to celebrate Crime Victims’ Rights Week, I’m excited to launch this new advisory committee, I thank all our partners for their participation, and I cannot stress enough the importance of the work that they will do. Our criminal justice system needs you and will benefit from your guidance on how we can recognize trauma, support victims and witnesses as they recover, and break the cycle that exists between victim and perpetrator.”

“The inclusion of survivor voices is fundamental to the process of administering justice in a meaningful way. I applaud the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office for creating this committee and elevating the voices of victims. Far too often victims are left without recourse for violations of their rights, Marsy’s Law and its passage in Pennsylvania will ensure that all victims have equal footing in the courtroom,” said Jennifer Storm, PA Victim Advocate.

In addition to professionals from the DAO’s Office of Victim and Witness Services, the CVAC will include Philadelphians who have personally experienced incidents of assault, sexual and/or domestic violence, or homicide and area organizations who serve the victims and witnesses of crime.

“The issues that victims face when entering the justice system are multi-layered and complicated.  Many victims of crime are further traumatized by the very systems that are responsible to ensure that they receive advocacy and services. My family was one of those families that was harmed.  This is one of the reasons why we created The CHARLES Foundation. It is hopeful to see that the District Attorney’s Office is looking at the problems that victims of crimes encounter and including the voices of the victims to develop solutions to reduce the probability of further harm,” added Toni Thorn, Homicide Co-Victim/The CHARLES Foundation.

CVAC members will meet monthly to discuss current and available victim services, share service delivery and crime victim support best practices, and establish measurable performance standards. The CVAC will also work to improve the DAO’s current portfolio of programs to better meet the needs of current and future victims to find ways to reduce future victimization and eliminate crime victim secondary and residual trauma.

In addition to announcing the CVAC, Krasner noted Marsy’s Law, which would create a set of constitutional, legal protections for the victims of crime.

“Legislation such as Marsy’s Law and my proposal – Senate Bill 1082 – which ensures victims’ rights and provides an opportunity for victims to be heard and compensated are critical to the effective operation of the justice system,” State Sen. Vincent J. Hughes (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery).

The Marsy’s Law bill calls for victims to:

  • Receive information about their rights;
  • Be notified about and be present for legal proceedings concerning them or the case they are involved in;
  • The right to be treated with fairness;
  • Respect for their privacy and dignity; and
  • To be free from intimidation, harassment, and abuse in the criminal or juvenile justice process.

“Change in the realm of violence begins when people in leadership positions listen to the voices of those affected by violence and then utilize those concerns as a driving force to make a difference from the top down. In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness month, which is commemorated every April, this is a step in the right direction to ensure survivors of sexual assault are receiving proper treatment and support,” said Laquisha Anthony, Sexual Assault Survivor.

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