In 1985 the New Jersey Crime Victim's Bill of Rights - was passed into law. It established specifically enumerated rights of Crime Victims and called for Victims to be "informed" and treated with "dignity and compassion by the criminal justice system." [N.J.S.A. 52:4B-34 et seq.]. The law also established the Office of Victim Witness Advocacy under the authority of the State Attorney General. [N.J.S.A. 52:4B-39].
The legislative findings and declarations in the enactment of the "Crime Victims' Bill of Rights" stated a strong policy behind the enforcement of victims' rights.
"The Legislature finds and declares that without the participation and cooperation of crime victims and witnesses, the criminal justice system would cease to function. The rights of these individuals should be given full recognition and protection. The Legislature has the responsibility to enhance and protect the necessary role of crime victims and witnesses in the criminal justice process. In furtherance of this, the improved treatment of these persons should be assured through the establishment of specific rights. These rights are among the most fundamental and important is assuring public confidence in the criminal justice system."
The specific rights established were set forth in N.J.S.A.
52:4B-36 as follows:
- To be treated with dignity and compassion by the criminal justice system;
- To be informed about the criminal justice process;
- To be free from intimidation;
- To have inconveniences associated with participation in the criminal justice process minimized to the fullest extent possible;
- To make at least one telephone call provided the call is reasonable in both length and location called;
- To medical assistance if, in the judgment of the law enforcement agency, medical assistance appears necessary;
- To be notified if presence in court is not needed;
- To be informed about available remedies, financial stance and social services;
- To be compensated for their loss whenever possible;
- To be provided a secure, but not necessarily separate, waiting area during court proceedings;
- To be advised of case progress and final disposition;
- To the prompt return of property when no longer needed as evidence;
In establishing the Office of Victim Witness Assistance, the 1985 law required that a statewide victim-witness information program be provided which shall:
a. Provide victims or their representatives with information about the availability of social and medical services, especially emergency and social services available in the victim's immediate geographical area;
b. Provide victims or their representatives with information about possible compensation under the "Criminal Injuries Compensation Act of 1971," P.L.1971, c. 317 (C.52:4B et seq.) and of the sentencing court's authority to order restitution under chapter 43 of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes;
c. Provide victims or their representatives with information about how to contact the appropriate county office of victim-witness advocacy and the appropriate county prosecutor's office;
d. Provide a 24-hour toll-free hotline telephone number for victims and witnesses to call with inquiries concerning the information and services available pursuant to this act.
e. Provide victims and witnesses with a detailed description of the rights established under the Crime Victim's Bill of Rights created by P.L.1985 c. 249 (C.52:4B et seq.);
f. Gather available information from victim assistance programs throughout the country and make that information available to the Office of Victim-Witness Advocacy, police agencies, hospitals, prosecutors' offices, the courts, and other agencies that provide assistance to victims of crimes; and
g. Sponsor conferences to bring together personnel working in the field of victim assistance and compensation to exchange methods and procedures for improving and expanding services to victims. L.1985, c. 404, sec. 4.
A critical step in establishing a Crime Victims' Service Network came with the passage of N.J.S.A. 52:4B-45 provided that a victim-witness coordinator shall be appointed in each county to carry our the purposes of the new law.
The 1985 law establishing the Crime Victims Bill of Rights called for the Attorney General to implement standards "to ensure that the rights of crime victims are enforced" (NJSA 52:4B-44). On April 24, 1987 Attorney General Carey Edwards established "interim standards" to ensure rights of crime victims.
On April 21, 1988 the Attorney General established "general standards" which followed the language of the statute as to the enumerated rights to be protected.
In 1991 Crime Victim's Bill of Rights was expanded to permit:
- A victim to submit a written impact statement to be considered prior to the prosecutor's final decision as to whether to file formal charges, N.J.S.A. 52:4B-36(m); and
- An in person impact statement prior to sentencing, N.J.S.A. 52:4B-36(n).
In 1994 the Crime Victims Bill of Rights (N.J.S.A. 52:14B-36) was further amended to give the victim additional input by requiring assistance to victims in submitting a written impact statement to a representative of the county prosecutor's office concerning the impact of the crime which shall be considered prior to the prosecutor's accepting a negotiated plea agreement containing recommendations as to sentence and assistance to victims in securing an explanation of the terms of any such agreement and the reasons for the agreement.
Victim-Witness Advocacy Offices
|Atlantic City - 609-645-5808
Bergen County - 201-646-2057
Burlington County - 609-265-5048
Camden County - 609-255-8431
Cape May County - 609-465-1163
Cumberland County - 609-453-0486
Essex County - 201-621-4707
Gloucester County - 609-384-5577
Hudson County - 201-795-6508
Hunterton County - 908-788-1403
Mercer County - 609-989-6428||
Middlesex County - 908-745-3394
Monmouth County - 908-431-6459
Morris County - 201-285-6200
Ocean County - 908-929-2195
Passaic County - 973-881-4887
Salem County - 609-935-7510
Somerset County - 908-575-3359
Sussex County - 201-383-1570
Union County - 908-527-4595
Warren County - 908-475-2663|