PARSIPPANY — Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Jay Webber expanding crime victims’ rights was unanimously advanced today by the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee.
“The trauma resulting from a crime extends beyond the immediate victim,” said Webber (R-Morris). “The physical, emotional, and financial harms of crime cascade to family and friends of the immediate victim, so those close individuals become victimized too from the crime. Allowing family and friends to tell their stories gives a judge the full picture of the devastating impact the crime has had on everyone involved so the judge can determine the proper sentence.”
Current law allows crime victims to tell a judge prior to sentencing the physical, emotional, medical, or financial impact the crime has on their lives. Webber’s bill (A1015) expands this right to people who have a close relationship with the victim, consistently allowing the 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 post-adjudication hearings that determine: if a sex offender’s name may be removed from the Megan’s Law registry after serving 15 years; a sex offender’s risk of committing another crime when released; and whether a person acquitted of a crime by reason of insanity should be civilly committed. Victims currently are excluded from such hearings.
“This measure literally gives victims and their families more of a voice in the courtroom so they receive full justice and criminals get the punishment they have earned,” concluded Webber.