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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

N.J.S.A. 52:4B-36 (Amended October 6, 2012)

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. Crime victims and witnesses are entitled to the following 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:
  1. To be treated with dignity and compassion by the criminal justice system;
  2. To be informed about the criminal justice process; 
  3. 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; 
  4. To have inconveniences associated with participation in the criminal justice process minimized to the fullest extent possible; 
  5. To make at least one telephone call provided the call is reasonable in both length and location called; 
  6. 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.); 
  7. 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;
  8. To be informed about available remedies, financial assistance and social services; 
  9. To be compensated for loss sustained by the victim whenever possible;
  10. To be provided a secure, but not necessarily separate, waiting area during court proceedings; 
  11. 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;
  12. To the prompt return of property when no longer needed as evidence; 
  13. 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;
  14. 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; 
  15. 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;
  16. 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; 
  17. To be notified of any release or escape of the defendant; and
  18. 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)
  1. 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
  2. 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.

Drunk Driving 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.

In addition to be provided by the court adjudicating the offense, upon the request of the victim in writing, with:

  • Information about their role in the court process.
  • Timely advance notice of the date, time and place of the defendant's initial appearance before a judicial officer, submission to the court of any plea agreement, the trial and sentencing.
  • Timely notification of the case disposition, including the trial and sentencing. Prompt notification of any decision or action in the case which results in the defendant's provisional or final release from custody.
  • Information about the status of the case at any time from the commission of the offense to final disposition or release of the defendant.
  • To receive, when requested from any law enforcement agency involved with the offense, assistance in obtaining employer cooperation in minimizing loss of pay and other benefits resulting from their participation in the court process.
  • To a secure waiting area after the motor vehicle accident, during investigations, and prior to a court appearance.
  • To submit to the court adjudicating the offense a written or oral statement to be considered in deciding upon sentencing and probation terms. This statement may include the nature and extent of any physical harm or psychological or emotional harm or trauma suffered by the victim, the extent of any loss of earnings or ability to work suffered by the victim and the effect of the offense upon the victim's family. When a need is demonstrated, the information in this section shall be provided in the Spanish as well as the English language.

Click here to go back to the Victim  Advocacy Center


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