Bill Text: NJ S2522 | 2012-2013 | Regular Session | Introduced


Bill Title: Requires notification to crime witnesses of defendant's release from custody under certain circumstances.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Democrat 1-0)

Status: (Introduced - Dead) 2013-02-21 - Combined with S2513 (SCS) [S2522 Detail]

Download: New_Jersey-2012-S2522-Introduced.html

SENATE, No. 2522

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

215th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED FEBRUARY 4, 2013

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  LORETTA WEINBERG

District 37 (Bergen)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Requires notification to crime witnesses of defendant's release from custody under certain circumstances.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning witnesses to crimes and amending various parts of the statutory law.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    Section 1 of P.L.1994, c.137 (C.2C:25-26.1) is amended to read as follows:

     1.    Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, whenever a defendant charged with a crime or an offense involving domestic violence is released from custody the prosecuting agency shall notify the victim and, upon request of any witness to the crime or offense, shall notify such witness.

(cf: P.L.1994, c.137, s.1)

 

     2.    Section 15 of P.L.1998, c.71 (C.30:4-27.38) is amended to read as follows:

     15.  In addition to any other information required to be released under this act, prior to the release of a person committed under this act, the Department of Corrections shall give written notice of the person's release to the Attorney General or the prosecutor of the county in which the person was prosecuted for the sexually violent offense which rendered the person subject to commitment under this act, depending on which office prosecuted the person for the sexually violent offense.  Upon receipt of such notice, the county prosecutor or Attorney General, as the case may be, shall notify the Office of Victim and Witness Advocacy of the county in which the person was prosecuted and that office shall use any reasonable means available to it to give notice of the person's release to the victim of the sexually violent offense or the victim's nearest relative if the sexually violent offense resulted in death, and to any witness to the sexually violent offense, if the witness requests such notice, which notice shall be in accordance with the provisions of section 6 of P.L.1985, c.404 (C.52:4B-44).  The notice required under this section shall be given only if a request for such notification has been made by the victim or the victim's nearest relative, as the case may be, to the county prosecutor or Attorney General, as the case may be, at the time the person was sentenced or committed.  Failure to notify shall not be a reason for postponement of release. Nothing in this subsection shall create a cause of action against the State, county or any employee of the State or county acting within the scope of the employee's employment as a result of the failure to notify under this act.

(cf: P.L.1998, c.71, s.15)


     3.    Section 1 of P.L.1998, c.68 (C.30:4-91.8) is amended to read as follows:

     1.    a. Whenever an inmate who has been convicted of murder; manslaughter; vehicular homicide; aggravated sexual assault; sexual assault; aggravated assault; aggravated criminal sexual contact; robbery; kidnapping pursuant to paragraph (2) of subsection c. of N.J.S.2C:13-1; endangering the welfare of a child by engaging in sexual conduct which would impair or debauch the morals of the child pursuant to subsection a. of N.J.S.2C:24-4; endangering the welfare of a child pursuant to paragraph (4) of subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:24-4; luring or enticing pursuant to section 1 of P.L.1993, c.291 (C.2C:13-6); or any crime of the first or second degree involving serious bodily injury is subject to a review by an Institutional Classification Committee which may result in participation in any residential community release program, the Department of Corrections shall provide written notice of that review in accordance with the provisions of subsection b. of this section.

     b.    (1) Upon the scheduling of a review subject to the notification requirement of this section, the Department of Corrections shall so notify the prosecutor of the county in which the inmate was convicted or, if the matter was prosecuted by the Attorney General, the Attorney General.

     Upon receipt of such notice, the county prosecutor or Attorney General, as the case may be, shall have 10 working days in which to submit comments.  If the county prosecutor or Attorney General does not provide comments within those 10 working days, the Department of Corrections may presume that the prosecutor or Attorney General, as the case may be, does not wish to submit any comments on the matter.  The notice shall include the inmate's name, identifying factors and offense history.

     (2)   Immediately upon receipt of such notice, the county prosecutor or Attorney General in accordance with the provisions of paragraph (1) of this subsection shall notify the Office of Victim and Witness Advocacy of the county in which the inmate was convicted and that office shall use any reasonable means available to it to give notice within 10 working days to the victim of the crime or the victim's nearest relative if the crime resulted in death, and to any witness to the crime of which the inmate was convicted.

     The notice required under this paragraph shall be given only if a request for such notification has been made by the victim or the victim's nearest relative, or by any witness to the crime, as the case may be, to the county prosecutor or Attorney General, as the case may be, at the time the inmate was sentenced.

     Upon receipt of such notice, the victim or the victim's nearest relative, as the case may be, shall have 10 working days in which to submit comments.  If the victim or the victim's nearest relative, as the case may be, does not provide comments within those 10 working days, the Department of Corrections may presume that the victim or victim's nearest relative, as the case may be, does not wish to submit any comments on the matter.

     (3)   Any comments provided pursuant to paragraph (1) or (2) of this subsection shall be in writing and shall be delivered to the Department of Corrections.

     Comments submitted pursuant to this subsection shall be deemed confidential and shall not be disclosed to any person who is not authorized to receive or review them.

     c.     Whenever the Department of Corrections receives comments from a prosecutor or the Attorney General, as the case may be, or from a victim or a victim's nearest relative, as the case may be, concerning the participation of an inmate in accordance with this act, it shall give all due consideration to the information contained in those comments when considering the participation of that inmate.

     d.    The Commissioner of Corrections, in accordance with the provisions of the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), may promulgate rules and regulations to effectuate the provisions of this act.

(cf: P.L.1998, c.68, s.1)

 

     4.    Section 1 of P.L.1994, c.135 (C.30:4-123.53a) is amended to read as follows:

     1.    a. As used in this act:  "Prosecutor" means the county prosecutor of the county in which the defendant was convicted unless the matter was prosecuted by the Attorney General, in which case "prosecutor" means the Attorney General.

     "Office of Victim Witness Advocacy" means the Office of Victim Witness Advocacy of the county in which the defendant was convicted.

     b.    Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, the State shall provide written notice to the prosecutor of the anticipated release from incarceration in a county or State penal institution or the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center of a person convicted of murder; manslaughter; aggravated sexual assault; sexual assault; aggravated assault; aggravated criminal sexual contact; kidnaping pursuant to paragraph (2) of subsection c. of N.J.S.2C:13-1; endangering the welfare of a child by engaging in sexual conduct which would impair or debauch the morals of the child pursuant to subsection a. of N.J.S.2C:24-4; endangering the welfare of a child pursuant to paragraph (4) of subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:24-4; luring or enticing pursuant to section 1 of P.L.1993, c.291 (C.2C:13-6); any other offense involving serious bodily injury or an attempt to commit any of the aforementioned offenses. In cases involving a release on parole, the State Parole Board shall provide the notice required by this subsection.  In all other cases, including but not limited to release upon expiration of sentence or release from incarceration due to a change in sentence, the Department of Corrections shall provide the notice required by this subsection.

     c.     Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, the Juvenile Justice Commission established pursuant to section 2 of P.L.1995, c.284 (C.52:17B-170) shall provide written notice to the prosecutor of the anticipated release from incarceration of a juvenile adjudicated delinquent on the basis of an offense which, if committed by an adult, would constitute murder; manslaughter; aggravated sexual assault; sexual assault; aggravated assault; aggravated criminal sexual contact; kidnaping pursuant to paragraph (2) of subsection c. of N.J.S.2C:13-1; endangering the welfare of a child by engaging in sexual conduct which would impair or debauch the morals of the child pursuant to subsection a. of N.J.S.2C:24-4; endangering the welfare of a child pursuant to paragraph (4) of subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:24-4; luring or enticing pursuant to section 1 of P.L.1993, c.291 (C.2C:13-6); any other offense involving serious bodily injury or an attempt to commit any of the aforementioned offenses.

     d.    If available, the notice shall be provided to the prosecutor 90 days before the inmate's anticipated release; provided however, the notice shall be provided at least 30 days before release.  The notice shall include the person's name, identifying factors, offense history, and anticipated future residence.  The prosecutor shall notify the Office of Victim and Witness Advocacy and that office shall use any reasonable means available to them to notify the victim of the anticipated release unless the victim has requested not to be notified.  The Office of Victim and Witness Advocacy shall also use any reasonable means available to them to notify any witness to the crime who has requested such notice.

     e.     Upon receipt of notice, the prosecutor shall provide notice to the law enforcement agency responsible for the municipality where the inmate will reside, the municipality in which any victim resides, and such other State and local law enforcement agencies as appropriate for public safety.

(cf: P.L. 2001, c.79, s.8)

 

     5.    Section 6 of P.L.1985, c.404 (C.52:4B-44) is amended to read as follows:

     6.    a. The Attorney General shall, through the Office of Victim-Witness Advocacy in the Division of Criminal Justice in the Department of Law and Public Safety and in consultation with the county prosecutors, promulgate standards for law enforcement agencies to ensure that the rights of crime victims and witnesses are enforced.

     b.    The standards shall require that the Office of Victim-Witness Advocacy in the Division of Criminal Justice and each county prosecutor's office provide the following services upon request for victims and witnesses involved in the prosecution of a case:

     (1)   Orientation information about the criminal justice system and the victim's and witness's role in the criminal justice process;

     (2)   Notification of any change in the case status and of final disposition;

     (3)   Information on crime prevention and on available responses to witness intimidation;

     (4)   Information about available services to meet needs resulting from the crime and referrals to service agencies, where appropriate;

     (5)   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;

     (6)   Advance notice of when presence in court is not needed;

     (7)   Advice about available compensation, restitution and other forms of recovery and assistance in applying for government compensation;

     (8)   A waiting or reception area separate from the defendant for use during court proceedings;

     (9)   An escort or accompaniment for intimidated victims or witnesses during court appearances;

     (10) Information about directions, parking, courthouse and courtroom locations, transportation services and witness fees, in advance of court appearances;

     (11) Assistance for victims and witnesses in meeting special needs when required to make court appearances, such as transportation and child care arrangements;

     (12) Assistance in making travel and lodging arrangements for out-of-State witnesses;

     (13) Notification to employers of victims and witnesses, if cooperation in the investigation or prosecution causes absence from work;

     (14) Notification of the case disposition, including the trial and sentencing;

     (15) Assistance to victims in submitting a written statement to a representative of the county prosecutor's office about the impact of the crime prior to the prosecutor's final decision concerning whether formal charges will be filed;

     (16) Advice to victims about their right to make a statement about the impact of the crime for inclusion in the presentence report or at time of parole consideration, if applicable;

     (17) Notification to victims of the right to make an in-person statement, prior to sentencing, directly to the sentencing court concerning the impact of the crime;

     (18) Expediting the return of property when no longer needed as evidence;

     (19) Advise and counsel, or refer for advice or counseling, victims of sexual assault, or other criminal acts involving a risk of transmission of disease, concerning available medical testing and assist such victims, or refer such victims for assistance, in obtaining appropriate testing, counseling and medical care and in making application to the Victims of Crime Compensation Board for compensation for the costs of such testing, counseling and care;

     (20) Assistance to victims in submitting a written impact statement to a representative of the county prosecutor's office concerning the impact of the crime which shall be considered prior to the prosecutor's accepting a negotiated plea agreement containing recommendations as to sentence and assistance to victims in securing an explanation of the terms of any such agreement and the reasons for the agreement;

     (21) Notification to the victim and, upon request of any witness to the crime, notification to such witness, of the defendant's release from custody which shall include:

     (a)   notice of the defendant's escape from custody and return to custody following escape;

     (b)   notice of any other release from custody, including placement in an Intensive Supervision Program or other alternative disposition, and any associated conditions of release;

     (c)   notice of the filing by an inmate of an application for commutation of sentence pursuant to N.J.S.2A:167-4 and its disposition;

     (d)   notice of parole consideration pursuant to provisions of P.L.1979, c.441 (C.30:4-123.45 et seq.); and

     (e)   notice of the pending release of an inmate due to expiration of sentence; and

     (22) Interpreting services for victims and witnesses when necessary to assist a victim or witness who is hearing impaired or developmentally disabled as defined in section 3 of P.L.1977, c.82 (C.30:6D-3) to understand questions and frame answers.

     c.     In a case involving a victim of aggravated sexual assault or sexual assault as defined in subsection a. or c. of N.J.S.2C:14-2, the Office of Victim-Witness Advocacy or the county prosecutor's office involved in the case shall:

     (1)   Notify the victim of the victim's right to obtain an approved serological test 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 assist the victim, or refer the victim for assistance, in obtaining a test and appropriate counseling and medical care;

     (2)   Notify the victim of the victim's right to obtain a court order pursuant to subsection a. of section 4 of P.L.1993, c.364 (C.2C:43-2.2) requiring the offender to submit to an approved serological test 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 in the event that the offender is indicted, formally charged, convicted or adjudicated delinquent;

     (3)   Communicate the request of a victim who agrees to seek an order pursuant to subsection a. of section 4 of P.L.1993, c.364 (C.2C:43-2.2) to the prosecutor handling the case and notify the victim or arrange for the victim to be notified of the test result; and

     (4)   Assist the victim in applying to the Victims of Crime Compensation Board for compensation for the costs of testing, counseling and medical care.

     d.    The Attorney General shall, through the Office of Victim-Witness Advocacy and in consultation with the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services, the Superintendent of State Police and representatives of providers of sexual assault services, to be designated by the Director of the Office of Victim-Witness Advocacy, coordinate the establishment of standard protocols for the provision of information and services to victims of sexual assault, and shall make such protocols available to victims upon request, except that the provision of information and services with regard to emergency contraception and sexually transmitted diseases shall be in accordance with P.L.2005, c.50 (C.26:2H-12.6b et al.).

     e.     In a case involving a victim of human trafficking as defined in section 1 of P.L.2005, c.77 (C.2C:13-8) the Office of Victim-Witness Advocacy or the county prosecutor's office involved in the case shall ensure that the victim of human trafficking obtains assistance in receiving any available benefits or services, including assistance in receiving any necessary certifications or endorsements needed to be recognized as having federal T non-immigrant status for the purpose of receiving any federal benefits or services available pursuant to the "Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2003," 22 U.S.C. s. 7101 et seq.

     f.     The Attorney General shall, through the Office of Victim-Witness Advocacy and in consultation with the Commissioner of the Department of Health and Senior Services, the Superintendent of State Police and representatives of providers of services to victims of human trafficking, to be designated by the Director of the Office of Victim-Witness Advocacy, coordinate the establishment of standard protocols for the provision of information and services to victims of human trafficking, including coordination of efforts with the appropriate federal authorities pursuant to the "Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2003," 22 U.S.C. s. 7101 et seq. and shall make such protocols available to victims upon request.

(cf: P.L.2005, c.77, s.5)

 

     6. This act shall take effect on the 90th day following enactment.


STATEMENT

 

     This bill would require that crime witnesses be notified of the defendant's release from custody under certain circumstances. Under current law, only crime victims or their relatives must be so notified. The statutes requiring victim notification are set out below:

        Section 1 of P.L.1994, c.137 (C.2C:25-26.1) provides that whenever a defendant charged with a crime or an offense involving domestic violence is released from custody the prosecutor must notify the victim;

        Section 15 of P.L.1998, c.71 (C.30:4-27.38) provides that the county Office of Victim and Witness Advocacy must notify the victim of a sexually violent offense or, if the victim died as a result of the offense, the victim's nearest relative, of the release from custody of a person committed as a sexually violent predator;

        Section 1 of P.L.1998, c.68 (C.30:4-91.8), provides that the Office must notify victims of certain serious crimes or their relatives that the defendant is subject to a review by an Institutional Classification Committee which may result in his participation in a residential community release program;

        Section 1 of P.L.1994, c.135 (C.30:4-123.53a) requires notification to victims of the anticipated release from incarceration of persons convicted of certain serious crimes; and

        Section 6 of P.L.1985, c.404 (C.52:4B-44), which governs the standards for law enforcement agencies to ensure the rights of crime victims, provides that victims are entitled to notification of: the defendant's escape from custody; any other release from custody, including placement in an Intensive Supervision Program or other alternative disposition; the inmate's filing of an application for commutation of sentence; the inmate's parole consideration; and the pending release of an inmate due to expiration of sentence.

     This bill would amend these statutory sections to require the county Office of Victim and Witness Advocacy or prosecutor, in addition to notifying the victim, to also notify any witness to the crime who has requested such notification.

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