(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Gordon M. Johnson (D-Bergen) and Ruben J. Ramos (D-Hudson) that expands the rights currently provided to victims of crimes and their families under the state constitution has been signed into law.
“The criminal justice system can be downright scary for a person who has been a victim of a crime. As if the crime committed was not enough, having to navigate the system to bring an attacker to justice can be an equally traumatic experience,” said Johnson. “This law builds on the rights already afforded to individuals victimized by crime, and sends a clear message that they are not powerless.”
“The prospect of facing an attacker can be intimidating, and in some cases even discourage a victim from bringing his or her attacker to justice. No person who has been the target of a criminal act should feel like they have to forfeit justice because of fear,” said Ramos. “This law will empower victims as they seek justice against their assailants, and hopefully make the road to recovery easier.”
The law (A-2380), named Alex DeCroce’s Law, enhances victims’ rights under The Victim’s Rights Amendment to the New Jersey Constitution enacted by the voters in 1991. It is named after the late Assembly Republican leader who was a driving force in the fight to protect the rights of crime victims and played a pivotal role in the enactment of the victim’s rights amendment to the New Jersey Constitution and the “Crime Victim’s Bill of Rights” in the state.
The law amends and supplements the existing rights to:
- provide that victims are to be free from harassment or abuse;
- increase victims’ access to medical assistance reasonably related to the incident in accordance with the “Criminal Injuries Compensation Act of 1971;
- increase victims’ access to the information concerning the progress of the case and the scheduling of court proceedings;
- expand the consideration of victims’ impact statements with regard to plea agreements and pretrial intervention programs, provided that those statements are submitted within a reasonable amount of time;
- provide victims the right to be present at any related judicial proceedings;
- provide that victims are to be notified of the release or escape of the accused; and
- provide victims with standing to enforce the rights afforded in this section.