DCJ’s Appellate Bureau is one of the original bureaus established by the New Jersey Legislature under the Criminal Justice Act in 1970. Its purpose is to “secure the benefits of a uniform and efficient enforcement of the criminal law and the administration of justice throughout the State.” The Appellate Bureau is responsible for administering and assigning all appeals for indictable convictions in New Jersey. In other words, all appeals from a defendant after their conviction comes first to DCJ’s Appellate Bureau to assign to one of its own Deputy Attorneys General or to a County Prosecutor’s Office to handle.
The Bureau represents the State’s interests and those of the Attorney General in criminal appeals before the New Jersey Supreme Court and the Appellate Division. Its attorneys write briefs and appear for oral argument before the Appellate Division and in virtually every criminal case before the New Jersey Supreme Court. The Bureau also handles habeas corpus matters in the federal district court and the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. And the Appellate Bureau has filed amicus briefs in the United State Supreme Court on behalf of New Jersey and other states in cases involving the interests of Attorneys General in the area the criminal justice. The Appellate Bureau also files orders to show cause seeking forfeiture of office, permanent debarment of public employment and in some cases, forfeiture of pensions for public officials or employees convicted of criminal offenses in federal court.
Additionally, the Appellate Bureau coordinates, advises and assists DCJ attorneys and county prosecutors in the handling of appeals and provides legal advice and assistance on criminal issues to the Attorney General, county and municipal prosecutors and other state departments and agencies. It also provides legal assistance to DCJ’s Deputy Attorneys General and Assistant Attorneys General in preparing for and during their criminal trials. Appellate Bureau Deputy Attorneys General also teach courses at the Attorney General Advocacy Institute (AGAI), the Basic Prosecutor Program; the County Prosecutors Association of New Jersey College, and County Prosecutor Offices, the New Jersey State Police, and police departments. And because of the Appellate Bureau’s knowledge and experience in all areas of criminal law, the Bureau’s attorneys represent the Attorney General in working groups and taskforces along with representatives from County Prosecutors’ Offices, other state departments, courts, police, and other partners collaborating on Attorney General directives, legislation recommendations, and reports on trends in criminal justice.
Cyber Crimes Bureau
The Cyber Crimes Bureau focuses on preventing, investigating, and prosecuting various technology-based crimes, including network intrusions, denials of service, malware, and other forms of cyber-attacks. Further, the Bureau prioritizes child exploitation crimes and investigations of online predators. The Bureau works directly with the State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Unit and other task forces, including participating in the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. The Deputy Attorneys General and Detectives assigned to the Bureau receive advanced training in digital and mobile forensics allowing them to effectively develop and present complex technical evidence in criminal cases.
Prosecuting child predators. In recent years, child predators have migrated to social media platforms to lure children for sexual activity. To combat this trend, the Attorney General’s Office has launched a series of undercover operations, netting dozens of alleged predators, including offenders from all walks of life. The Office has also used these announcements as an opportunity to educate parents, children, and school administrators about the risks of using various websites and social media platforms, whether or not those platforms are geared toward use by children.
Cracking down on child sexual abuse and exploitation material. Working with the New Jersey State Police and the 21 County Prosecutors’ Offices, the Division of Criminal Justice investigates and prosecutes those who traffic in images of child sexual abuse and exploitation material. In recent years, DCJ has sought and obtained lengthy sentences for those convicted of child sexual abuse and exploitation material, including individuals who possessed tens of thousands of images of child sexual abuse and exploitation.
Increasing awareness and prosecution of human trafficking. The Cyber Crimes Bureau also investigates human trafficking and related offenses, particularly where child trafficking is alleged. Those who seek to traffic victims, particularly child-victims, are more frequently using social media platforms in attempts to covertly carry out their crimes. The DCJ detectives in the Cyber Crimes Bureau are uniquely and specially trained to investigate these crimes.
DCJ is also committed to combating the crime of human trafficking through education, collaboration, and prosecution, and demonstrates that commitment through its leadership of the New Jersey Human Trafficking Task Force.
The Task Force’s goals are to:
- Train and assist law enforcement in methods of identifying victims and signs of trafficking in order to disrupt and interdict this activity;
- Coordinate statewide efforts in identifying and providing services to victims of human trafficking; and
- Increase the successful interdiction and prosecution of trafficking of human persons.
For more information about the work of the New Jersey Human Trafficking Task Force, please visit https://www.nj.gov/oag/dcj/humantrafficking/index.html.
Gangs and Organized Crime Bureau
The Gangs and Organized Crimes Bureau investigates and prosecutes organized criminal enterprises operating throughout New Jersey. Those enterprises range from criminal street gangs to traditional organized crime. The Bureau uses New Jersey’s Racketeering statute to dismantle drug distribution and weapons trafficking enterprises as well as organized groups responsible for violent activity throughout the State. Deputy Attorneys General assigned to the Bureau prosecute cases investigated by both DCJ detectives and members of the New Jersey State Police.
In addition to prosecuting Racketeering cases, the Bureau focuses on various narcotics and weapons related offenses, such as maintaining a controlled dangerous substance production facility, promoting organized street crime, strict liability drug induced deaths, distribution of large quantities of controlled dangerous substances, leader of a narcotics trafficking network, leader of a firearms trafficking network, transporting weapons into New Jersey for distribution/sale, possession of weapons by convicted felons, and purchasing parts to manufacture untraceable firearms.
A hallmark of the State’s strategy in addressing the threat of gangs and organized crime has always involved prioritizing the investigation and prosecution of the leadership ranks of the various enterprises, as well as the multitude of underlings who commit illegal acts in their name. Disrupting the command structure of any organization, legal or illicit, has long been recognized as the most effective way of dismantling it. Indeed, coordination of criminal activities of many by the few in power affords gang and organized crime enterprises the ability to inflict the greatest economic harm, generate the highest levels of intimidation/violence in our communities, and wield the most significant corrupt influences. The DCJ Gangs and Organized Crime Bureau is committed to protecting the community from the dangerous activities of these enterprises.
Specialized Crimes Bureau
The Specialized Crimes Bureau is comprised of DCJ Deputy Attorneys General, detectives, and administrative support personnel, and is responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes in a wide variety of areas including: Bias Crimes, Environmental Crimes, Casino Prosecutions, Labor Fraud Prosecutions, and crimes involving the Motor Vehicle Commission. In addition, the Specialized Crimes Bureau oversees the operation of the Atlantic City Violent Crime Task Force, which is a multi-agency, collaborative effort to combat violent crime and major narcotics trafficking that may impact the tourism industry in the Atlantic City area. DAsG assigned to the Bureau also prosecute auto theft organizations investigated by the New Jersey State Police Auto Theft Task Force.
- The Bias Crimes Unit investigates and prosecutes crimes motivated by prejudice based on race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender, disability or ethnicity. The Unit also extends outreach to numerous communities to offer instruction on how to identify and report bias incidents. The Unit serves as a liaison to law enforcement agencies operating in and around the State, and monitors each and every bias incident reported in New Jersey and prosecutes those involving criminality.
- Bias Crimes Unit
- Bias Incident Investigation Standards
- To report bias incidents and crimes, please visit: https://bias.njcivilrights.gov/en-US/
- The Environmental Crimes Unit is responsible for investigating and prosecuting violations of the State’s water pollution, air pollution, hazardous waste and solid waste laws, as well as traditional crimes that have an impact on public health and safety and the environment. This Unit has conducted many notable water pollution and hazardous waste disposal investigations, as well as crimes involving public safety matters.
- The Casino Prosecutions Unit is responsible for investigating and prosecuting all indictable criminal offenses that occur at Atlantic City’s casinos. Casino Unit detectives work closely with the New Jersey State Police to investigate and prepare cases for criminal prosecution.
- The Labor Prosecutions Unit is responsible for investigating and prosecuting individuals involved in committing fraud against the New Jersey Department of Labor. Investigations handled by the Labor Unit include Unemployment and Disability Insurance frauds. This Unit also investigates “Wage and Hour” criminal violations.
- The Motor Vehicle Commission Unit is responsible for investigating and prosecuting criminal conduct related to the Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC), including, but not limited to, fraudulent procurement of MVC documents such as, driver’s licenses, vehicle titles and registrations.
Human Trafficking Unit
The newly established Human Trafficking Unit will spearhead New Jersey’s fight against human trafficking through aggressive pursuit of criminal networks that trade in people and exploit them for profit.
Clergy Abuse Task Force
On September 6, 2018, the Division of Criminal Justice embarked on the largest statewide criminal investigation in its history by forming the Clergy Abuse Taskforce to investigate allegations of sexual abuse by members of the clergy in the State of New Jersey. The Clergy Abuse Taskforce is staffed by a team of over 75 people including detectives and prosecutors from all 21 County Prosecutors’ Offices and the Division of Criminal Justice.
Prosecutors Supervision and Training Bureau
The Prosecutors Supervision and Training Bureau performs the administrative and programmatic duties to fulfill the Attorney General’s statutory mandate as the chief law enforcement officer in the state. In this capacity, the Bureau aides in the Attorney General’s exercise of general supervisory authority over each of the 21 County Prosecutors’ Offices and their respective local police departments. The Bureau achieves its goals through an array of functions ranging from supervision, oversight, coordination, consultation, administration, outreach, and training in/through each of the areas listed below:
Criminal Justice Policy
The Bureau coordinates the implementation of various statewide initiatives and mandates that affect the law enforcement community, provides analysis concerning proposed legislation of importance to law enforcement, and provides legal advice and training to members of the law enforcement community on a variety of police, prosecutorial, and law enforcement management related issues.
By routinely serving as representatives of the Attorney General and the Director of the Division of Criminal Justice, Bureau members contribute to the important work of countless Supreme Court committees, working groups, taskforces, specialized committees, and advisory groups on criminal justice matters. The Bureau also forms and maintains liaison groups of prosecutors and law enforcement officers from across the state on a variety of specialized subject matters important to the day-to-day operation of criminal justice.
Prosecutors’ Offices and Law Enforcement Agencies
The Bureau performs a number of supervisory and oversight functions, such as performing periodic administrative reviews of office and program management, gathering information concerning various law enforcement functions, maintaining directives, standard operation procedures, and guidelines for operations within law enforcement agencies, and overseeing expenditures and management of forfeiture funds by law enforcement agencies. Additionally, the Bureau vets conflict cases, handles supersessions of prosecutions based on venue changes, and reviews and makes recommendations on the approval of applications by County Prosecutors regarding immunity and statutorily permissible waivers of the public bidding law.
The Bureau also undertakes a thorough examination of all matters in which a state law enforcement officer is accused of domestic violence and subject to an order preventing them from possessing firearms. In these matters, Bureau members scrutinize the applicable facts and make recommendations to the Director of the Division of Criminal Justice on whether applications for rearming are appropriate. Similarly, Bureau members review all conducted energy device (CED) deployments by law enforcement officers in New Jersey and make recommendations on the propriety of such deployments.
The prosecutors in this state handle a staggering number of matters every year. When members of the public write or call to express concerns over how a criminal matter was handled by a County Prosecutor’s Office, the Bureau reviews the matter for abuses of discretion in how the investigation or prosecution was performed.
Furthermore, when there is a change of one of the County Prosecutors, the Bureau coordinates the transition of power from one County Prosecutor to the next and ensures that the process and procedures of the New Jersey State Constitution and state statutes are followed.
The work of the Bureau also extends to issues dealing with municipal court prosecutions. Bureau members work with both the County Prosecutors’ Offices and individual municipal prosecutors to establish best practices for supervising municipal court prosecutions to ensure consistency and to improve the quality of justice in the state’s municipal courts. The Bureau also collects Disclosure Statements and Separation Statements from municipal prosecutors on a yearly basis to ensure centralized up-to-date information on municipal prosecutors across the state.
Community Relations and Outreach
The Bureau staffs and oversees the Continuing Law Enforcement Affirmative Relations Institute (CLEAR). The core mission of the CLEAR Institute is identifying and developing the cultural diversity training courses and materials for law enforcement officials across the state. Through this Institute, the Bureau works in cooperation with community, faith-based, and educational organizations as well as civic leaders, the County Prosecutors’ Offices, the New Jersey State Police and local law enforcement agencies, and the Office of Law Enforcement and Professional Standards, to fulfill the Institute’s mission.
To further improve relations between the public and law enforcement officials, the Bureau also coordinates numerous community outreach events and community policing efforts. By working closely with a broad section of stakeholders from local communities, the Bureau is able to partner with liaisons from the County Prosecutors’ Offices to develop programming designed to strengthen the relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve.
Police Training Commission
The Bureau also houses, staffs, and serves as general legal counsel to the Police Training Commission (PTC). Under the authority of the Police Training Act, PTC staff are responsible for the development, certification, and updating of basic training courses for county and local police, sheriffs’ officers, state and county investigators, state and county corrections officers, juvenile detention officers, and a number of other law enforcement positions, as well as several instructor development courses.
PTC staff are also responsible for the certification of training course curricula, instructors, trainees, and academies authorized to conduct any of the 35 PTC-certified training courses. Moreover, PTC staff develop operational guidelines to implement applicable training standards, monitor the operation of all PTC-certified academies, review all trainee injuries, investigate possible violations of the Police Training Act or PTC Rules occurring during authorized training courses, and handle appeals involving challenges to PTC decisions regarding, for example, trainee dismissals from PTC-certified courses, training waivers, and drug screening practices of PTC-certified academies.
Division of Criminal Justice Training Academy
In addition to its other training functions, the Bureau also aides in developing curriculum for and instructing numerous courses at the DCJ Training Academy. With diverse course offerings from the Basic Course for Investigators, Firearms Instructor, Basic Arson Investigator, and a wide variety of specialty and management development courses not generally available at other police academies, the DCJ Academy is one of the state’s most sought-after police academies.
Other Core Functions
Lastly, the Bureau serves two other core functions by housing and staffing both the New Jersey Resiliency Program for Law Enforcement (NJRP-LE) and by serving as the Ethics Liaison Officers for all County Prosecutors and the Division of Criminal Justice.
Regarding the NJRP-LE, the Bureau houses the Chief Resiliency Officer and the first-in-the-nation resiliency program designed to safeguard the mental health of the law enforcement community by striving to create a supportive culture for law enforcement officers, their families and friends, and the broader New Jersey community. In this capacity, the Bureau established a statewide training framework and infrastructure designed to develop a network of Resiliency Program Officers in every law enforcement agency in the state. These Resiliency Program Officers train all of the officers in their respective agencies on the NJRP-LE and serve as the point of contact for officers that may need referrals to supportive programs and services.
Regarding the ethics function, the Bureau assists the County Prosecutors and Director of the Division of Criminal Justice with interpreting and applying the Code of Ethics for County Prosecutors (the Code). Although the title of the Code might suggest that it is applicable only to County Prosecutors, it applies to every person employed by a County Prosecutor, as well as the Director of the Division of Criminal Justice and their employees. The integrity and impartiality of all prosecuting attorneys, detectives, and their support staff is critical to maintaining public confidence in the criminal justice system. The Bureau assists the County Prosecutors and Director of the Division of Criminal Justice with ensuring that their employees are performing their duties impartially, professionally and in an unbiased manner, and that the private interests of prosecutors do not influence the performance of those duties.
DCJ Training Academy
The DCJ Academy was approved by the Police Training Commission (PTC) in 1980. The DCJ Academy has a proud history of graduating qualified and certified Detectives/Investigators. The Academy hosts the Basic Course for Investigators (BCI) for two recruit classes a year, approximately each five months long. Each 21-week course provides basic law enforcement training for State Detectives/Investigators, including DCJ and New Jersey’s Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, investigators and detectives from County Prosecutors’ Offices, officers from the Division of State Parole Board, special agents from the New Jersey Department of the Treasury, Department of Corrections (Special Investigations Division), and occasionally Arson Investigators from the local municipalities. The BCI instructs recruits on a number of topics, including, but not limited to, New Jersey Title 2C Criminal Code, Drill & Ceremony, Physical Training, Defensive Tactics, Emergency Vehicle Operations, Basic Firearms Training, CPR/First Aid, Oleoresin Capsicum O.C. training, Vehicle Pull Over Techniques, and Active Shooter Response.
The DCJ Academy offers several different varieties of in-service courses as well as PTC-approved courses. Examples of these courses are Patrol Rifle Instructor, Firearms Instructor, Investigator Safety and Security, Interview and Interrogation, Money Laundering, White Collar Investigations, Corruption Investigations and Prosecutions, Basic Course for Arson Investigators, Trial Testimony, and Criminal Procedure Updates.
The Academy is also responsible for conducting monthly Physical Qualification Tests, (PQT) for qualified candidates selected during DCJ’s hiring process. These candidates are required to successfully complete the PQT in order to advance through the hiring process.
The Academy oversees and is responsible for compliance auditing of all firearms programs conducted at each of the PTC-approved law enforcement academies throughout the state. These audits and inspections are completed by the Academy State Range Masters.
The DCJ Academy not only educates the recruits on a daily basis, but also instills in them a sense of discipline with which they take with them upon their successful completion of the course. The Academy is unique in that it provides recruits with the knowledge and training needed to be a Detective/Investigator in their law enforcement careers. Currently, the DCJ Training Academy is the only certified Academy in the state that trains and certifies officers with a Basic Course of Investigator’s certification.
Records and Identification Bureau
The Records and Identification Bureau (R&I) is a law enforcement operations support bureau serving all bureaus and units within the Division of Criminal Justice. R&I’s primary function is to review assign all intake material, which includes walk-in and DCJ tipline referrals. In a typical year, R&I will handle, process and assign in excess of 20,000 intakes. All tipline referrals, both email and telephone, are received by R&I for review.
R&I also acts as administrator for a number of investigative databases used by DCJ’s investigative staff and administrative support team members. R&I is responsible for maintaining and administering the Automated Finger Print Identification System, better known as AFIS.
Additionally, R&I members regularly provide operational support through searches of various law enforcement databases to DCJ’s investigative staff engaged in field operations. R&I also processes all background applications for applicants, interns, and contractors seeking DCJ employment and/or office space. R&I acts as DCJ’s Records Custodian, as well as Open Public Records (OPRA) Custodian responsible for maintaining and searching thousands of boxes of records, vault case files. R&I also functions as DCJ’s Expungement Officer and Custodian, as well as its custodian of confidential funds. R&I receives and reviews Division mail, as well as all FedEx/UPS time-sensitive parcels. The aforementioned listing is not all inclusive, but captures many of the critical functions served by R&I team members.
Electronic Surveillance Unit
The Electronic Surveillance Unit (ESU) is a specialized investigative and technological support unit within the Division of Criminal Justice. ESU provides a variety of surveillance services, training, forensics, discovery products, digital evidence storage, and equipment to DCJ and law enforcement throughout the State. ESU members provide technical assistance with installing and operating the equipment used, as well as, facilitating its use and integration into the investigations. ESU is responsible for the procurement, maintenance, use, and distribution of audio and video equipment related to:
- Video surveillance
- Technical Surveillance & Countermeasures sweeps
- Vehicle/Parcel tracking
- Digital Evidence storage and discovery production
- Cell phone forensics and vehicle “black box” forensics
- Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) operations
State Grand Jury
Housed within the Division of Criminal Justice is the State Grand Jury, which was established by the Legislature to investigate organized crimes, corruption, white collar crimes, environmental and casino-related crimes, crimes against state agencies and programs, and diverse other forms of criminality of Statewide significance that are prosecuted by the Attorney General. Since the passage of the State Grand Jury Act, multiple statewide grand juries are concurrently in session and actively conduct investigations. The State Grand Jury is responsible for maintaining the uniformity and upholding the standards of quality that have been established by the Division. Each year, the staff conducts enhanced criminal history and background checks on over 4600 potential jurors. Over 1600 citizens from the State of New Jersey come to the Richard Hughes Justice Complex each year to be selected as a State Grand Juror.
Evidence Management Unit
DCJ’s Evidence Management Unit (EMU) has a primary function to receive, catalog, safely store, and maintain the integrity of evidence recovered and property found for safekeeping. EMU is responsible for the evidence that is obtained by DCJ detectives during DCJ criminal investigations. Once the evidence is received, it is properly secured through a centralized filing system using evidence vouchers and barcodes. EMU maintains a legal obligation to store and protect items of evidence and to properly return to owner or dispose of property in a legal manner.
DCJ Training Bureau
The DCJ Training Bureau is a standalone Bureau responsible for creating, implementing and maintaining internal and external training courses and the resultant records for all sworn personnel, in addition to ensuring that both new employees and existing personnel are fitted and issued all required equipment.
The Training Bureau has a broad role impacting sworn personnel throughout an officer’s career. It ranges from Bureau members’ involvement in initial interviews of candidates for employment and subsequent scheduling and tracking of mental and physical evaluations for selected candidates to ensuring the provision of extensive initial agency training to recruits on topics specific to DCJ. Upon graduation from recruit training, new DCJ detectives participate in a four-week Field Training Officer (FTO) program created, administered and conducted by Training Bureau staff with help from experienced sworn staff, who are supervised by the Bureau. Once a new detective completes the FTO Program, the Bureau provides ongoing trainings mandated by mandated by state law, Attorney General Directives, DCJ Chief of Detectives’ Directives, and any specialized training (including First Responder Bleeding Control, CPR, etc.), which are presented and implemented to ensure compliance, maintain integrity, and allow for future law enforcement accreditation.
CODIS Compliance Unit
CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) is the program by which New Jersey collects, categorizes, and stores DNA taken from criminal offenders. The CODIS Compliance Unit oversees the collection and information-processing side of the program and ensures that New Jersey is compliant with all state and federal laws surrounding CODIS. The CODIS Compliance Unit works closely with the CODIS Unit from the New Jersey State Police Office of Forensic Sciences and is responsible for all statewide training. The CODIS program is a vital component of the criminal justice system as it assures accurate identification of criminal offenders. It can also help law enforcement with missing persons, unidentified remains, and criminal investigations.
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New Jersey State Office of Victim Witness Advocacy
The mission of the State Office of Victim-Witness Advocacy is to support and expand victim-witness services across the State along with the law enforcement community. The goal of this program is to provide victims and witnesses with services that will help them cope with the aftermath of victimization and help make their participation in the system less difficult and burdensome. The state office works closely with the county offices and provides funding for many of their programs from federal and state funds.
For much more information about the New Jersey State Office of Victim Witness Advocacy, visit: https://www.njvw.org/.