New Jersey State Constitution includes guaranteed rights for crime
victims. Article I, paragraph 22 reads:
A victim of 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 proceeding
except when, prior to completing testimony as a witness, the victim
is properly sequestered in accordance with law or the Rule 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
rights of defendants in our criminal justice system were written
into the Constitution of the United States at the time it was created.
Rights for victims on the other hand only became part of the NJ
Constitution in 1991.
constitutional amendment provides that a victim of crime is entitled
to be treated with fairness, compassion and respect by the criminal
justice system, and to such other substantive or procedural rights
as may be provided by statute. It entitles a victim to be present
at public judicial hearings when not sequestered. Although this
amendment is not intended in any way to deny or infringe upon the
constitutional rights of any person accused of a crime, it is designed
to place victims on an equal footing by guaranteeing certain fundamental
rights as a matter of State constitutional imperative.
provision would ensure, for example, that no victim could be prevented
from attending a public trial or other public judicial proceeding
unless he or she were subject to being called or recalled as a witness
at the proceeding. In other words, a court could only "sequester"
a victim prior to the victim completing his or her testimony as
a witness. If a victim is not a witness, or once any testimony has
been given and the victim is no longer subject to being recalled
as a witness, he or she could not thereafter be denied the right
to attend the public judicial proceeding, unless, of course, the
person's conduct was so disruptive as to warrant exclusion on the
grounds of contempt of court. This provision is intended to preclude
the abuse by defense counsel of the witness sequestration practice.
It is also intended that the right established in this amendment
to be present at public judicial proceedings necessarily includes
the right to be notified of such proceedings, as is required under
constitutional amendment defines a "victim of a crime" to mean any
person who has suffered physical or psychological injury, or has
incurred loss or damage to property, as a result of the commission
of a crime or a motor vehicle incident in which another person was
driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The definition
of a victim for the purposes of this constitutional amendment includes
the surviving spouse, parent, legal guardian, grandparent, child
or sibling of the victim of a criminal homicide. Nothing in this
constitutional amendment is intended to preclude the Legislature
from extending similar rights to the next of kin of persons incapacitated
as the result of a crime.
constitutional amendment would authorize the Legislature to provide
by statute for any appropriate remedies. Consequently, although
this amendment establishes certain constitutional rights, and authorizes
the Legislature to enlarge upon those rights, this provision is
not intended and does not establish any cause of action for monetary
damages. Rather, it is intended that any such cause of action could
only be sustained if specifically authorized by a statute.
constitutional amendment is supported by both a Crime Victims Bill
of Rights and a Drunk Driving Victims Bill of Rights.
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