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  • NJ A3592
  • Revises law governing testifying via closed circuit television in certain criminal cases.*
In Committee
Crossed OverPassedSignedDead/Failed/Vetoed
2016-2017 Regular Session
This bill removes the restriction that a witness be 16 years of age or younger to testify via closed circuit television (CCTV) in trials for certain sex crimes. Under current law, witnesses 16 years of age or younger may provide testimony via CCTV in prosecutions for aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual contact, criminal sexual contact, human trafficking involving sexual activity, and child abuse. The witness is required to show that there is a substantial likelihood that he or she would suffer severe emotional or mental distress if required to testify in open court. This bill removes the age restriction to allow witnesses of any age to testify via CCTV in these cases. In Maryland v. Craig, 497 U.S. 836 (1990), the United States Supreme Court held that the Confrontation Clause of the United States Constitution does not guarantee a defendant an absolute right to a face to face confrontation at trial and that the government's interest in protecting child victims of sexual assault from the trauma of testifying in the defendant's presence justifies a special procedure that can protect the victim and not impair the right of the defendant to confront all witnesses. Craig was decided 25 years ago before the victims' rights movement took hold in New Jersey and before the New Jersey Constitution was amended to give victims of crime the right to be treated with fairness, compassion, and respect by the criminal justice system. Subsequently, numerous laws have been enacted in New Jersey advancing the rights of all victims of sex crimes and a wealth of knowledge has been developed concerning the dynamics of sexual offenses and their impact on crime victims. According to the sponsor, this bill represents a progressive understanding of the interaction between the practice within the criminal courts and impact of the court process on victims of crime. It is the sponsor's understanding that witnesses would still be required to show that there will be a substantial likelihood of severe emotional distress if they are compelled to testify in open court with the defendant sitting just a few feet away. The CCTV process with respect to children has worked effectively since the statute was enacted. Expansion of this statute will ensure that all victims, regardless of age, are given the opportunity to be treated with compassion, fairness, and respect, as mandated by the New Jersey Constitution without the possible infringement of the rights of the accused.
2nd Reading in the Assembly, Law and Public Safety
Reported from Assembly Comm. as a Substitute, 2nd Reading  (on 10/27/2016)
Date Chamber Action Description
10/27/2016 A Reported from Assembly Comm. as a Substitute, 2nd Reading
10/27/2016 Assembly Law and Public Safety Hearing (14:00 10/27/2016 Committee Room 13, 4th Floor)
4/7/2016 A Introduced, Referred to Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee
Date Motion Yea Nay Other
Detail 10/27/2016 Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee: Reported with Substitution 7 1 1