Updated New Jersey Laws Would Provide More Rights to Sexual Assault Survivors
In early March 2021, the New Jersey Assembly passed a package of bills that would expand the rights of sexual assault survivors and their access to case information. Seven separate bills were drafted in coordination with several sexual assault victim advocacy groups, and they passed the Assembly without opposition after passing the Senate in December. If Governor Phil Murphy signs the bills, New Jersey will provide greater rights to brave victims who come forward to report sexual assault or abuse.
If you suffered sexual assault, you have important rights under the law, and you stand to have even greater rights should the updated laws be enacted. It can help to discuss your options with an experienced New Jersey sexual assault injury attorney who stands up for the rights and interests of survivors.
Changes to the Law
The proposals aim to support survivors as sexual assault cases work their way through the system. If Gov. Murphy adds his signature, the following would be enacted:
- Establishment of a Sexual Violence Restorative Justice Pilot Program that aims to bring survivors together with abusers to try to restore independence and control in the survivors’ lives.
- Requirements for law enforcement to give victims a copy of the initial incident report and allow them to submit corrections to any inaccurate or misconstrued information in the report.
- Requirements for authorities to inform sexual assault victims of their rights, services available to them, contact information for advocates, and an overview of the criminal justice process.
- Establish the right of victims to receive notification whether the prosecutor decides to file charges or not, as well as the right to discuss plea bargain proposals with prosecutors.
- Requirements that the State Attorney’s Office conduct audits on sexual assault cases and submit annual reports that include the number of complaints filed, how many cases ended in plea bargains, and how many cases prosecutors declined to take to trial.
- Establishment of a liaison officer in both local and state police departments who has special training in sexual violence. This liaison would be a point of contact for victims and provide guidance and training to other officers.
- Requirements for prosecutors to undergo training once every three years regarding the proper handling of sexual assault cases, including responding to initial complaints, investigations, and restorative justice.
It is positive for survivors to be allowed a more active role in the criminal process, as it helps them overcome their experiences in many cases. We will stay informed on these new rights should they become New Jersey law.
Speak with a New Jersey Sexual Assault Injury Lawyer Today
In addition to the criminal process, sexual assault and abuse survivors have the right to take civil action against their abusers. This is important for survivors to recover financially for the physical and emotional injuries and suffering they experienced. If you believe you might have a case, never hesitate to reach out to the compassionate legal team at Leonard Legal Group. Contact us online or call 973-984-1414 for a confidential, no-cost consultation. We are here to help.