ASSEMBLY, No. 2607







By Assemblywoman ALLEN and Assemblyman DeSOPO



An Act concerning the confidentiality of crime impact statements and amending P.L.1985, c.249.


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


    1. Section 3 of P.L.1985, c.249 (C.52:4B-36) is amended to read as follows:

    3. The Legislature finds and declares that crime victims and witnesses are entitled to the following rights:

    a. To be treated with dignity and compassion by the criminal justice system;

    b. To be informed about the criminal justice process;

    c. To be free from intimidation;

    d. To have inconveniences associated with participation in the criminal justice process minimized to the fullest extent possible;

    e. To make at least one telephone call provided the call is reasonable in both length and location called;

    f. To medical assistance if, in the judgment of the law enforcement agency, medical assistance appears necessary;

    g. To be notified if presence in court is not needed;

    h. To be informed about available remedies, financial assistance and social services;

    i. To be compensated for their loss whenever possible;

    j. To be provided a secure, but not necessarily separate, waiting area during court proceedings;

    k. To be advised of case progress and final disposition;

    l. To the prompt return of property when no longer needed as evidence;

    m. To submit a written statement about the impact of the crime to a representative of the county prosecutor's office which shall be considered prior to the prosecutor's final decision concerning whether formal criminal charges will be filed; and

    n. To make, prior to sentencing, an in-person statement directly to the sentencing court concerning the impact of the crime.

    This statement is to be made in addition to the statement permitted for inclusion in the presentence report by N.J.S.2C:44-6. Any such statement, if made in writing to a representative of the county prosecutor, shall be privileged as a communication between an attorney and client. Any statement made in person to the sentencing court may be made out of the presence of the defendant, and the court shall not disclose the contents of the victim's statement to the defendant without the express consent of the victim. The victim of a crime shall be notified by the prosecutor of the right to make confidential statements under this section.

(cf: P.L.1991, c.44, s.1)


    2. This act shall take effect immediately.





    In cases where there have been either a conviction by trial or plea bargain agreement, victims are currently allowed to write an impact statement to be sent to the judge. This bill would classify such statements as confidential communications, and would permit disclosure of the statements to the defense only with the consent of the victim.

    At present, these statements are made available to the defense attorney, giving the offender access to the statement. Use of victim impact statements by the defense may severely increase a victim's feeling of betrayal by the system. In addition, victims of sexual assault have often been threatened by the offenders. The disclosure of the written statements seriously compromises the ability of the victims to use this vehicle to express their feelings about the crime and the sentence. Confidentiality of the written statement would assure that the victim has a platform to express thoughts and feelings, free of the fear of reprisal.




Classifies victim impact statements as confidential communications.