Victim Witness Services

Victims’ Rights & Laws

Victims’ Rights & Laws

Constitutional Amendment

New Jersey Constitutional Amendment for Victims Rights
(N.J. Const., art. I, para. 22)

A victim of a crime shall be treated with fairness, compassion and respect by the criminal justice system. A victim of a crime shall not be denied the right to be present at public judicial proceedings except when, prior to completing testimony as a witness, the victim is properly sequestered in accordance with law or the Rules Governing the Courts of the State of New Jersey. A victim of a crime shall be entitled to those rights and remedies as may be provided by the Legislature.

Crime Victims Bill of Rights
Rights of Crime Victims and Witnesses (N.J.S.A. § 52:4B-36)
The Legislature finds and declares that crime victims and witnesses are entitled to the following rights:
a. To be treated with dignity and compassion by the criminal justice system; 
b. To be informed about the criminal justice process; 
c. To be free from intimidation, harassment or abuse by any person including the defendant or any other person acting in support of or on behalf of the defendant, due to the involvement of the victim or witness in the criminal justice process; 
d. To have inconveniences associated with participation in the criminal justice process minimized to the fullest extent possible; 
e. To make at least one telephone call provided the call is reasonable in both length and location called; 
f. To medical assistance reasonably related to the incident in accordance with the provisions of the “Criminal Injuries Compensation Act of 1971,” P.L. 1971, c. 317 (N.J.S.A. § 52:4B-1 et seq.); 
g. To be notified in a timely manner, if practicable, if presence in court is not needed or if any scheduled court proceeding has been adjourned or cancelled; 
h. To be informed about available remedies, financial assistance and social services; 
i. To be compensated for loss sustained by the victim whenever possible; 
j. To be provided a secure, but not necessarily separate, waiting area during court proceedings; 
k. To be advised of case progress and final disposition and to confer with the prosecutor’s representative so that the victim may be kept adequately informed; 
l. To the prompt return of property when no longer needed as evidence; 
m. To submit a written statement, within a reasonable amount of time, about the impact of the crime to a representative of the prosecuting agency which shall be considered prior to the prosecutor’s final decision concerning whether formal criminal charges will be filed, whether the prosecutor will consent to a request by the defendant to enter into a pre-trial program, and whether the prosecutor will make or agree to a negotiated plea; 
n. To make, prior to sentencing, an in-person statement directly to the sentencing court concerning the impact of the crime. This statement is to be made in addition to the statement permitted for inclusion in the presentence report by N.J.S.A. § 2C:44-6; 
o. To have the opportunity to consult with the prosecuting authority prior to the conclusion of any plea negotiations, and to have the prosecutor advise the court of the consultation and the victim’s position regarding the plea agreement, provided however that nothing herein shall be construed to alter or limit the authority or discretion of the prosecutor to enter into any plea agreement which the prosecutor deems appropriate; 
p. To be present at any judicial proceeding involving a crime or any juvenile proceeding involving a criminal offense, except as otherwise provided by Article I, paragraph 22 of the New Jersey Constitution; 
q. To be notified of any release or escape of the defendant; and 
r. To appear in any court before which a proceeding implicating the rights of the victim is being held, with standing to file a motion or present argument on a motion filed to enforce any right conferred herein or by Article I, paragraph 22 of the New Jersey Constitution, and to receive an adjudicative decision by the court on any such motion. 
Rights of the Survivors of Homicide Victims (N.J.S.A. § 52:4B-36-1)
a. A victim’s survivor may, at the time of making the in-person statement to the sentencing court authorized by subsection n. of section 3 of P.L.1985, c. 249 (N.J.S.A. § 52:4B-36), display directly to the sentencing court a photograph of the victim taken before the homicide including, but not limited to, a still photograph, a computer-generated presentation, or a video presentation of the victim. The time, length and content of such presentation shall be within the sound discretion of the sentencing judge; and 
b. A victim’s survivor may, during any judicial proceeding involving the defendant, wear a button not exceeding four inches in diameter that contains a picture of the victim, if the court determines that the wearing of such button will not deprive the defendant of his right to a fair trial under the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article I of the New Jersey Constitution. Other spectators at such judicial proceedings may also wear similar buttons if the court so determines. If the victim’s survivor seeks to wear the button at trial, the victim’s survivor shall give notice to the defendant and to the court no less than 30 days prior to the final trial date. 
Crime Victims are NOT Required to Pay Certain Costs (N.J.S.A. § 52:4B-36-2)
a. A crime victim shall not be required to pay the maintenance, support, rehabilitation, or other costs arising from the imprisonment or commitment of a victimizer as a result of the crime; and 
b. A crime victim shall not be charged any fee otherwise prescribed by law or regulation to obtain copies of the victim’s own records to which the victim is entitled to access as provided in section 1 of P.L.1995, c. 23 (N.J.S.A. § 47:1A-1.1) including, but not limited to, any law enforcement agency report, domestic violence offense report, and temporary or permanent restraining order. 
Drunk Drivers Victims' Bill of Rights
Victims of Drunk Drivers are entitled to:

  • To make statements to law enforcement officers regarding the facts of the motor vehicle collision and to reasonable use of a telephone.
  • To receive medical assistance for injuries resulting from the accident.
  • To contact the investigating officer and see copies of the incident reports and, in case of a surviving spouse, child or next of kin, the autopsy reports.
Sexual Assault Victims Bill of Rights

AN ACT concerning the rights of victims of sexual violence and supplementing Title 52 of the Revised Statutes.
BE IT ENACTED by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
C.52:4B-60.1 Short title.
1. This act shall be known and may be cited as the “Sexual Assault Victim’s Bill of Rights.”

C.52:4B-60.2 Findings, declarations relative to the rights of victims of sexual violence.
2. The Legislature finds and declares that:
a. The enactment of the “Crime Victim’s Bill of Rights,” P.L.1985, c.249 (C.52:4B-34 et seq.) and the “New Jersey Campus Sexual Assault Victim’s Bill of Rights Act,” P.L.1994,
c.160 (C.18A:61E-1 et seq.) have resulted in significant advances in the recognition and protection of the rights of crime victims and survivors once they enter the criminal justice system;
b. Nonetheless, victims of sexual violence in particular often face circumstances where they may be blamed for the crime, assumed to be fabricating the crime, or taken less seriously than their injuries warrant. These victims are sometimes discouraged from proceeding with their complaints and as a result may not be afforded the protections and rights in the criminal justice system to which they are entitled;
c. Therefore, with no diminution of the legislatively-recognized rights of crime victims, it is the public policy of this State that the criminal justice system accord victims of sexual violence the following rights:
(1) To have any allegation of sexual assault treated seriously; to be treated with dignity and compassion; and to be notified of existing medical, counseling, mental health, or other services available for victims of sexual assault, whether or not the crime is reported to law enforcement;
(2) To be free, to the extent consistent with the New Jersey or United States Constitution, from any suggestion that victims are responsible for the commission of crimes against them or any suggestion that victims were contributorily negligent or assumed the risk of being assaulted;
(3) To be free from any suggestion that victims are to report the crimes to be assured of any other guaranteed right and that victims should refrain from reporting crimes in order to avoid unwanted personal publicity;
(4) When applicable, to no-cost access to the services of a sexual assault response team comprised of: a certified forensic nurse examiner, a confidential sexual violence advocate, and a law enforcement official as provided in accordance with the Attorney General’s Standards for Providing Services to Victims of Sexual Assault, and the choice to opt into or out of any of the team’s services;
(5) To be informed of, and assisted in exercising, the right to be confidentially or anonymously tested for acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) or infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or any other related virus identified as a probable causative agent of AIDS; and to be informed of, and assisted in exercising, any rights that may be provided by law to compel and disclose the results of testing of a sexual assault suspect for communicable diseases;
(6) To have forensic medical evidence, if collected, retained for a minimum of five years, and to receive information about the status of the evidence upon request;
(7) To choose whether to participate in any investigation of the assault;
(8) To reasonable efforts to provide treatment and interviews in a language in which the victim is fluent and the right to be given access to appropriate assistive devices to accommodate disabilities that the victim may have, whether temporary or long term;
(9) To information and assistance in accessing specialized mental health services; protection from further violence; other appropriate community or governmental services, including services provided by the Victims of Crime Compensation Office; and all other assistance available to crime victims under current law;
(10) To be apprised of the availability and process by which a court may order the taking of testimony from a victim via closed circuit television in accordance with section 1 of P.L.1985, c.126 (C.2A:84A-32.4); and
(11) To be apprised of the availability and process by which to seek protections through a temporary or final protective order under the “Sexual Assault Survivor Protection Act of 2015,” P.L.2015, c.147 (C.2C:14-13 et seq.), if the victim believes that the victim is at risk for re-victimization or further harm by the perpetrator.
C.52:4B-60.3 Publication of notice of rights on Internet website, posting at certain locations.
3. The Attorney General, in consultation with the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault, shall publish a notice of the rights enumerated in the “Sexual Assault Victim’s Bill of Rights” pursuant to subsection c. of section 2 of this act, and shall make this notice available to the public on the Internet website of the Department of Law and Public Safety.
All hospital emergency departments, police stations and other law enforcement agencies, sexual violence service organizations, and any other entity informing victims of sexual violence of their rights shall post a copy of this notice in a conspicuous location that is available to the public.
The Attorney General shall incorporate the rights and services enumerated in the “Sexual Assault Victim’s Bill of Rights” pursuant to this act and in the “Sexual Assault Survivor Protection Act of 2015,” P.L.2015, c.147 (C.2C:14-13 et seq.), in the Attorney General Standards for Providing Services to Victims of Sexual Assault to ensure the compassionate and sensitive delivery of services to all sexual violence victims.
4. This act shall take effect on the first day of the seventh month next following the date of enactment, but the Attorney General may take any anticipatory administrative action in advance thereof as shall be necessary for the implementation of this act.

Approved May 10, 2019.

Sexual Assault Victims Bill of Rights

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