The Berks County Juvenile Probation Office operates under the Balanced and Restorative Justice model. This means we view the victim, the community, and the offender as clients of the Juvenile Justice System. You have the right to speak in court about what happened to you and/or your family as a result of the crime. Please be advised that the judges who sit in Juvenile Court are very interested in hearing from the victims of juvenile crime. We strongly urge you to attend your court hearing to voice your concerns and thoughts about what has happened.
If you plan to attend the court hearing please be advised of the following:
Arriving at Court
All Juvenile Court proceedings are held on the 10th floor of the Berks County Services Center located at 633 Court Street in Reading, PA. Parking is readily available in garages adjacent to the Services Center.
Upon arriving on the 10th floor, you will be checked in and handed a card entitled "Notice to Witness." This card is your verification that you have appeared in court and entitles you to your witness fee and mileage reimbursement. Please note that mileage reimbursement is only applicable if you are driving into the city limits. If you live within the city limits, you will only receive the witness fee. After you have received your card, you will be escorted to the victim/witness waiting room, where the Victim/Witness Advocate will review your victim claim form and answer any questions you may have. The Assistant District Attorney will also meet with you to ask questions about the crime for which you have been subpoenaed.
As a victim or witness of a crime, your role in the Juvenile Justice System is very important. As a citizen, you have a responsibility to testify in court regarding your knowledge of the crime. Remember, an effective law enforcement and judicial system depends upon individual citizens such as yourself cooperating with the police investigating the crime and with the court system which provides justice.
Juvenile proceedings differ from the adult system in that cases can be handled informally without a court hearing or proceed directly to Juvenile Court. In any event, the victim will be notified of either procedure. Should the case proceed directly to court, both the victim and the witness(s) are notified by a subpoena.
Your Rights as a Victim
A victim of crime has the right to be:
- Treated courteously throughout the entire judicial process.
- Assisted by Criminal Justice personnel.
- Told about financial help for losses and injuries.
- Free from threats.
- Told about social service agencies.
- Notification, upon request, when a child who was detained in secure detention or residential placement is granted a home pass.
- Present at all court hearings which pertain to the crime committed against you.
- Provided with a separate waiting area from the alleged juvenile offender.
- Reimbursed for mileage to and from the Services Center (only if travel is from outside the city limits)
The first step of the process is to fill out a Victim Claim Form. This form is sent to all victims of juvenile crimes in Berks County. This form is used to collect and convey the victims thoughts and damage amounts to the Judge, the Probation Office, the Assistant District Attorney, and the offender. This form will help determine the necessary restitution amount that will be ordered against the offender.
If you have been excused from the court hearing by the Assistant District Attorney handling your case and you do not plan to appear, please contact the Victim/Witness Advocate so she can speak on your behalf at the court hearing, should you wish the Court to hear any comments. Also, if you have not done so, please submit your Victim Claim Form/Victim Impact Statement to the Juvenile Probation Office as soon as possible.
In an effort to better serve the victims of crimes committed in Berks County, Probation Officer Alison Campbell has been designated as a Victim/Witness Advocate and assigned solely to work with victims. Alison will help by answering questions, calculating financial damages, or simply being available in a victim's time of need.
Alison can be reached via phone at (610) 478-3200 ext. 6427, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, between the hours of 8:00am and 4:00pm Monday through Friday.