ffice of Victim Witness Advocacy
"Do no further harm."
The Office of Victim Witness Advocacy, within the County Prosecutor's Office was established in January 1986 to ensure the rights of victims. The New Jersey State Constitution guarantees the rights of crime victims and requires the criminal justice system treat victims with "fairness, compassion and respect". Both the Crime Victims Bill of Rights (NJSA 52:4B-34 to 38) and the Drunk Driving Victims Bill of Rights (NJSA 39:4-50.9 to 13) support this Constitutional Amendment.
The Office of Victim Witness Advocacy in Hunterdon County is responsible for providing supportive and informative assistance to crime victims. The Victim Witness staff strives to ensure that all of the rights afforded to victims of crime are being met. At the present time, some of the services we offer are as follows:
- Written notification of court proceedings
- Assistance filing claims with the Victims of Crime Compensation Board
- Support Assistant Prosecutors when prepping victim or civilian witnesses for trial
- Provide comfort, support and assistance for victims who testify at trial or other court proceedings
- Offer referrals for counseling
- Aid victims in finding the appropriate Social Service Agency, when necessary
- Give information and explanations regarding the criminal justice process as it applies to their case, from investigation to disposition
- Courtroom accompaniment
- Work with other victim related agencies to ensure the safety and security of all sexual assault crime victims, whether it is an adult or child victim
- Assist victims with restitution issues
- Gather accurate and precise information for the Assistant Prosecutors in order to aid in the recovery of losses to victims
- Assistance in obtaining HIV/AIDS test results of defendants
- Notification of a defendants release from custody, which includes the VINE Program
- Transportation to court proceedings
- Phone calls to victims to advise of plea offers, downgrades, dismissals and obtain their input
- Meet with victims and the Assistant Prosecutors to discuss case status and plea offers
- Review case status with victims
- Provide assistance to victims to prepare and deliver victim impact statements to the court
- Home visits as needed or deemed necessary
- Provide a separate waiting area for victims during court proceedings
- Provide information about transportation, parking and courthouse location
- Assist victims with return of property when it is no longer needed as evidence
- Provide employer or school notification and/or intervention when needed
In addition, Hunterdon County victims receive a great deal of direct, one-on-one services from the Victim Witness Unit, either by phone or in person. Every effort is made to have personal contact with every victim in order to keep them informed of the status of their case, answer any questions they may have and act as liaison between the victim and Assistant Prosecutors, Detectives or Police Officers. Having this contact enables Victim Advocates to build a rapport with the victims that will carry throughout the duration of their case.
"It is the mission of the New Jersey Association of Victim Witness Coordinators to reduce the impact of crime on victims' lives by supporting statewide victim services programs and promoting victim rights. We believe that victims of crime have a right to be treated with dignity, compassion and respect and it is our responsibility to ensure that all County Offices of Victim Witness Advocacy are committed to such."