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A bill sponsored by Assemblymen Nelson Albano and Matthew Milam to provide extended relief to victims of violent crimes has been signed into law.

Created in 1971, the Victims of Crime Compensation Office, within the State Department of Law and Public Safety, provides compensation to innocent victims of violent crime for some expenses they suffer as a result of the crime, including counseling costs and medical bills.

Under current law, a victim’s claim for compensation expires five years after an initial determination order is made by the Victims of Crime Compensation Office. This new law (A-2372) will allow the office to continue making payments to a victim if the office determines that compelling circumstances exist justifying the payment of a claim beyond the current limit.

“Recently, a victim who received mental health counseling during an initial trial against the defendant was denied further counseling during a retrial because the new trial occurred more than five years after the victim first received counseling during the first trial,” said Albano (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). “This law will hopefully assist victims who have legitimate reasons to require assistance beyond the previous five year limitation.”

“You cannot put an arbitrary expiration date on the physical and mental anguish many victims of violent crime undergo,” said Milam (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). “There are many extenuating circumstances, particularly in protracted legal cases where victims might require additional assistance. Under this new law, the office would have discretion to award payments beyond the five-year limitation in such cases.”