About the AG’s Office
The New Jersey Attorney General has broad oversight of the state’s legal and law enforcement matters. As the head of the Department of Law & Public Safety, the Attorney General supervises a wide range of Divisions, Offices, and Commissions, consisting of 2,800 uniformed officers, 600 lawyers, and thousands of other public servants. Generally speaking, the Attorney General’s responsibilities can be divided into five subject matters: criminal, civil, regulatory, grant-making, and juvenile rehabilitation.
To The Attorney General’s criminal authority extends beyond the Divisions under his direct supervision. Under to the Criminal Justice Act of 1970, the Attorney General is responsible for the “administration of criminal justice throughout the state.” N.J.S.A. 52:17b-98. This responsibility takes several forms. The Attorney General may issue statements of statewide policy – known as “law enforcement directives” – that are binding on all 36,000 state, county, and local law enforcement officers in New Jersey. In addition, the Attorney General oversees the state’s 21 County Prosecutors, and may assume responsibility for, or “supersede,” investigations or prosecutions handled by a County Prosecutor’s Office. Finally, through DCJ, the Attorney General oversees the Police Training Commission, which establishes standards for law enforcement training and the state’s police academies.
The Attorney General is the state’s chief law enforcement officer. As part of that responsibility, the Attorney General oversees the New Jersey State Police (NJSP), the state’s largest law enforcement agency, and the Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ), which has statewide authority to investigate and prosecute criminal offenses. In addition, the Attorney General oversees two specialized prosecution agencies: the Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor (OIFP), which investigates insurance fraud, and the Office of Public Integrity & Accountability (OPIA), which investigates public corruption and other abuses of public trust.
The Attorney General also serves as the state’s chief lawyer, providing legal representation to the Office of the Governor and the state’s departments, boards, and agencies. The Attorney General carries out this responsibility through the Division of Law (DOL), which assigns its attorneys to represent various state entities. (In New Jersey, state agencies are not permitted to employ their own in-house counsel, except where explicitly permitted by law, and so DOL serves as the “sole legal adviser” for most departments. Florio Executive Order 6 (1990); N.J.S.A. 52:17A-4(e).) In certain circumstances, including cases involving a conflict of interest, the Attorney General may retain private counsel to carry out these responsibilities.
Through DOL, the Attorney General defends state agencies when they are sued and also represents agencies when they bring enforcement actions against companies and individuals that violate state law. These enforcement actions – known as “affirmative litigation” or “affirmative civil enforcement” – ensure compliance with New Jersey’s civil rights, consumer protection, environmental, health care, labor, and securities laws.
The Attorney General also oversees two agencies that work closely with DOL to protect New Jersey residents: the Division on Civil Rights (DCR), which investigates violations of the state’s Law Against Discrimination, and the Division of Consumer Affairs (DCA), which among other things investigates violations of the state’s Consumer Fraud Act.
The Attorney General oversees several Divisions responsible for regulating various aspects of New Jersey’s economy. The industries subject to regulation by the Department include:
- New Jersey’s securities industry, including investment advisors and broker-dealers, through DCA’s Bureau of Securities;
- The distribution, production, and sale of alcohol, through the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC);
- Casino gaming, including online gaming and sports betting, through the Division on Gaming Enforcement (DGE);
- Horseracing, through the New Jersey Racing Commission (NJRC); and
- Boxing and other combative sports exhibitions, through the State Athletic Control Board (SACB).
Through DCA, the Attorney General also oversees 49 professional licensing boards, which regulate a combined 750,000 individuals and businesses in New Jersey. The boards regulate professions ranging from accountants to veterinarians, including a number of medical professions, including doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, and psychologists.
The Attorney General also distributes funds to organizations and individuals to support various law enforcement initiatives in New Jersey. Among other things, the Attorney General serves as a conduit for certain federal grants, including the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) and Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) programs.
In addition, the Attorney General oversees the Office of Highway Traffic Safety (HTS), which receives grant funds from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to promote statewide traffic safety programs through education, engineering, and enforcement activities.
The Attorney General also supervises the Victims of Crime Compensation Office (VCCO), which serves as a funder of last resort for crime victims who suffered expenses as a result of the crime.
The Attorney General oversees the Juvenile Justice Commission (JJC), the state agency responsible for housing and rehabilitating youths who have committed juvenile offenses. Through JJC, the Attorney General works to reduce the number of New Jersey youths incarcerated in the juvenile justice system, in part by identifying alternatives to incarceration and detention at both the state and county level. As part of its responsibilities, JJC operates a statewide network of secure detention facilities, residential community homes, substance abuse programs, and juvenile parole offices.