SENATE, No. 554

 

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

 

211th LEGISLATURE

 

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2004 SESSION

 

 

Sponsored by:

Senator JOSEPH F. VITALE

District 19 (Middlesex)

Senator RONALD L. RICE

District 28 (Essex)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

    Requires notification of rape care advocate under certain circumstances by law enforcement, prosecutors and medical providers.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

    Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel.

 


An Act concerning rape care advocates and supplementing chapter 14 of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes and chapter 4B of Title 52 of the New Jersey Statutes.

 

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

 

    1. The Legislature finds and declares that the designated rape care centers and the rape care advocates who work in these centers provide an essential service to victims of sexual assault. These advocates provide compassion and understanding to victims as they undergo difficult legal and medical proceedings.

 

    2. As used in sections 1 through 3 of P.L. , c. (C. )(now pending before the Legislature as sections 1 through 3 of this bill):

    "Designated rape crisis center" means a county-wide organization whose purpose it is to provide counseling and advocacy services to victims of sexual offenses under contract with the Division on Women in the Department of Community Affairs.

    "Rape care advocate" means a person who specializes in counseling victims of sexual offenses, who is employed by or volunteers for a designated rape crisis center and who at minimum satisfies the requirements of a victim counselor as defined in section 3 of P.L. 1987, c.169 (C.2A:84A-22.14).

    "Sexual offense" means sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault as set forth in N.J.S.2C:14-2, criminal sexual contact and aggravated criminal sexual contact as set forth in N.J.S.2C:14-3, fourth degree lewdness as set forth in subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:14-4 and endangering the welfare of a child by engaging in sexual conduct which would impair or debauch the morals of the child as set forth in N.J.S.2C:24-4.

    "Victim" means a person 12 years of age or older who alleges or is alleged to have suffered a personal, physical or psychological injury as a result of a sexual offense.

 

    3. a. Whenever there is an alleged sexual offense, the first responding law enforcement officer shall immediately notify the local designated rape crisis center. This notification shall be made regardless of when an alleged sexual offense occurs. The victim shall have the right to have a rape care advocate present and to confer with a rape care advocate prior to and during any medical, evidentiary or physical examination of the victim.

    b. Prior to the commencement of any medical, evidentiary or physical examination of the victim arising out of an alleged sexual offense, the first responding medical provider assigned to the case shall immediately notify the local designated rape crisis center. This notification shall be made regardless of when an alleged sexual offense occurs. The victim shall be notified orally or in writing by the rape care advocate that the victim has the right to have present and to confer with a rape care advocate prior to and during any medical, evidentiary or physical examination of the victim.

 

    4. a. In a case involving a victim of an alleged sexual offense, the victim shall have the right to have a rape care advocate present and to confer with the rape care advocate prior to and during any interview, statement or contact with the victim by law enforcement authorities, prosecuting attorneys, or defense attorneys.

    b. Prior to the commencement of any law enforcement interview, statement or contact with the victim by any prosecuting attorney pertaining to any criminal action arising out of an alleged commission of a sexual offense, the law enforcement agency or prosecuting attorney shall notify the local designated rape crisis center. The victim shall be notified orally or in writing by the rape care advocate that the victim has the right to have a rape care advocate present and to confer with the rape care advocate prior to and during any interview, statement or contact with the victim by law enforcement authorities, prosecuting attorneys, or defense attorneys.

 

    5. This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

    This bill establishes procedures to be followed by law enforcement officers, medical providers and rape care advocates whenever there is an alleged sexual assault.

    Under the provisions of the bill, the local designated rape crisis center is to be immediately notified by the first responding law enforcement officer whenever there is an alleged sexual offense. This notification is required to be made regardless of when an alleged sexual offense occurs. The bill also requires that prior to the commencement of any medical, evidentiary or physical exam the first responding medical provider is to immediately notify the local designated rape crisis center. The bill also requires the victim to be notified, orally or in writing, by the rape care advocate that she has the right to have present and to confer with a rape care advocate prior to and during any medical, evidentiary or physical examination of the victim.

     In addition, the bill provides that prior to the commencement of any law enforcement interview, statement or contact with the victim by any prosecuting attorney, the law enforcement agency or prosecuting attorney is required to notify the local designated rape crisis center. The rape care advocate is required to notify the victim, orally or in writing, that the victim has the right to have a rape care advocate present and to confer with the rape care advocate prior to and during any interview, statement or contact with the victim by law enforcement authorities, prosecuting attorneys, or defense attorneys.

    The bill defines a "rape care advocate" as a person who specializes in counseling victims of sexual offenses, who is employed by or volunteers for a designated rape crisis center and who at minimum satisfies the requirement of a victim counselor as defined in N.J.S.2A:84A-22.14. A victim counselor is required to have 40 hours of training and be under the control of a direct services supervisor of a center which counsels victims. The bill also defines a "designated rape crisis center" as a county-wide organization, under contract with the Division on Women in the Department of Community Affairs, whose purpose is to provide counseling and advocacy services to victims of sexual offenses. "Sexual offense" is defined as a sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault pursuant to N.J.S.2C:14-2, criminal sexual contact and aggravated criminal sexual contact pursuant to N.J.S.2C:14-3, fourth degree lewdness pursuant to subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:14-4 and endangering the welfare of a child by engaging in sexual conduct which would impair or debauch the morals of the child pursuant to N.J.S.2C:24-4. A "victim" is defined as a person 12 years of age or older who alleges or is alleged to have suffered a personal, physical or psychological injury as a result of a sexual offense.

    This bill is based on recent amendments to California's sexual assault and victim support statutes.