Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Gordon Johnson (D-Bergen) to help protect witnesses of violent crimes was approved by the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee on Thursday.
“Being able to ensure the safety of a witness is often key to securing their testimony, and consequently, convicting violent criminals of heinous crimes,” said Johnson. “This bill will extend the relocation assistance currently afforded to victims to witnesses as well.”
The bill (A-1424) authorizes the Victims of Crime Compensation Office (VCCO) to pay for relocation expenses incurred by witnesses of violent crimes.
Under current law, the VCCO compensates victims of violent crimes for certain expenses incurred as a result of the crime committed against them, including relocation expenses.
This bill authorizes the VCCO to also pay for the relocation expenses of witnesses of violent crimes, as well. The bill defines a witness as a person who witnessed the commission of an enumerated violent crime, such as murder, manslaughter, kidnapping, and sexual assault, and who has been threatened as a result of witnessing the crime.
Under current state regulations, the maximum amount the VCCO is permitted to pay for relocation costs is $2,500.