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  • NJ A533
  • Enhances "Crime Victim's Bill of Rights"; prohibits defendant from entering crime victim's home throughout criminal justice process, including in relation to any investigation or discovery.
Introduced
(1/27/2016)
In Committee
(1/27/2016)
Crossed OverPassedSignedDead/Failed/Vetoed
2016-2017 Regular Session
This bill would specify that certain privacy rights are encompassed by the "Crime Victim's Bill of Rights," P.L.1985, c.249 (C.52:4B-34 et seq.) and would prohibit a defendant from entering the home of a crime victim during the criminal justice process under any circumstances. The Victim's Rights Amendment to the New Jersey Constitution, enacted by the voters in 1991 as paragraph 22 of Article I, makes crime victims' rights a constitutional mandate and specifically provides that victims "shall be entitled to those rights and remedies as may be provided by the Legislature." Pursuant to subsection c. of the Crime Victim's Bill of Rights, enumerated in section 3 of P.L.1985, c.249 (C.52:4B-36), crime victims are to be free from intimidation, harassment, or abuse by any person including the defendant or any other person acting in support of or on behalf of the defendant, due to the involvement of the victim or witness in the criminal justice process. Subsection d. provides that inconveniences to victims associated with participation in the criminal justice process are to be minimized to the fullest extent possible. In this State, a criminal defendant is entitled to comprehensive discovery, which is defined broadly. Rule 3:13-3(b) of the New Jersey Rules of Court directs, in relevant part, that the prosecutor's discovery for a defendant named in an indictment is to be provided or made available within seven days of the return or unsealing of the indictment. Under Rule 3:13-3(b)(1)(E), discovery includes buildings or places which are within the possession, custody or control of the prosecutor. When discovery is sought which is not within the possession, custody, or control of the prosecutor and does not fall within the categories permitted by the Rules of Court, such as discovery related to a crime scene that is the victim's home, the court will determine whether the discovery request should be granted. In making its determination, the court will exercise judicial discretion to balance the beneficial effects of the discovery against its disadvantages. Under current law, when faced with a defendant's request to inspect a crime scene that is an alleged victim's home, and the court has found that the request is legitimate and that the defendant has articulated a reasonable basis to believe the inspection will lead to relevant evidence on a material issue, the New Jersey Supreme Court has held that subject to appropriate time, place, and manner restrictions intended to protect the privacy interests of the alleged victim and her family, the defendant, along with his attorney, may be permitted to inspect the victim's home. See State ex rel. A.B., No. A-74-12 072873, 2014 N.J. LEXIS 909 (N.J. September 24, 2014). In the sponsor's view, the entry of an order permitting a defendant to enter into the home of a crime victim for any purpose would serve to intimidate, harass or abuse a crime victim in violation of the Crime Victim's Bill of Rights, and does not satisfactorily minimize the inconveniences to the crime victim, as required by the Crime Victim's Bill of Rights. Under the bill, a defendant's attorney or court-appointed representative may be permitted to inspect a victim's home that is the scene of a crime if the court find's the defendant has demonstrated there is a reasonable basis to believe that a home inspection of limited duration will yield relevant evidence. However the defendant will not be permitted to enter or inspect the victim's home under any circumstances. The bill would further provide that the New Jersey Supreme Court may adopt such court rules and procedures as it deems necessary to effectuate the purposes of this act, and the State Attorney General may adopt, pursuant to the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), rules and regulations necessary for the implementation and administration of this act. The bill would take effect on the 60th day after the date of enactment.
Judiciary
Introduced, Referred to Assembly Judiciary Committee  (on 1/27/2016)
 
 

Date Chamber Action Description
1/27/2016 A Introduced, Referred to Assembly Judiciary Committee
Date Motion Yea Nay Other
None specified