A blog of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section

The House and Senate are holding budget hearings this week. The House returns to session on April 4. The Senate returns to session on April 5.

On the legislative fast track are two issues—the Castle Doctrine and expanded DNA testing.

Similar Castle Doctrine bills have been introduced in the House and Senate. They would expand the right to use deadly force in self-defense to porches, patrios and vehicles. House Bill 40, introduced by Representative Scott Perry (R-Cumberland) had second reading on March 9 and was referred to the House Appropriations Committee. Senate Bill 273, introduced by Senator Richard Alloway (R-Adams, Franklin, York). passed the Senate on March 7 and was sent to the House. The bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee.

Three bills have been introduced to expand DNA testing. Present law requires DNA testing of persons convicted of serious crimes. The new legislation would require testing of persons charged but not yet convicted of serious crimes. The bills are Senate Bill 775 introduced by Senator Dominic Pileggi (R-Chester, Delaware), Senate Bill 754, introduced by Senator Lisa Boscolo, D-Lehigh, Monroe and Northampton, and House Bill 713, introduced by Representative Dennis O’Brien, R-Philadelphia. On March 18, public testimony was taken in Philadelphia on Senate Bill 775. The bills are in the Senate or House Judiciary Committees.

The Senate Judiciary Committee meets April 12 to consider Senate Bill 850 (Greenleaf-R-Montgomery) establishing the offense of cyberbullying and sexting. The bill also provides for the expungement of juvenile summary convictions and liquor offenses committed between the ages of 18 and 21.

Free legal research available on State and Federal court appointed cases from the Student Research Center. http://www.philadelphiabar.org/page/CJResearch?appNum=4

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