DeCroce bill expanding crime victims’ rights clears committee

Assemblywoman Betty Lou DeCroce

PARSIPPANY — An Assembly panel advanced legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce expanding crime victims’ rights by allowing their relatives and friends to speak during sentencing. The bill was unanimously approved today by the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee.

“Crime victims deserve justice, and in matters of such importance as this judges should have as much information as possible when deciding sentencing,” said DeCroce (R-Morris). “Their family and friends know better than anyone the suffering they have endured. This bill provides consistency so that everyone who wishes to be heard has the opportunity.”

The law allows crime victims to tell a judge prior to sentencing the physical, emotional, medical or financial impact the crime on has on their life. DeCroce’s bill (A1015) expands this right to people who have a close relationship with the victim, consistently allowing testimony. Most courts will allow such statements, but some have been denied.

The bill also allows sexual assault victims and survivors of homicide victims to attend hearings that determine if a sex offender’s name may be removed from the Megan’s Law registry after serving 15 years, their risk of committing another crime when released, and whether a person acquitted of a crime by reason of insanity should be civilly committed. Victims are currently excluded from such hearings.