Friday, April 29, 2011

New Jersey Victims of Crime Compensation Office and the Defendant’s Right to Know.

The New Jersey Victims of Crime Compensation Office pays millions of dollars a year to victims and sometimes fraudulent victims who claimed that they have been injured by defendants.

The VCCO pays a maximum claim of $25,000.00 for various bills and expenses incurred by a crime victim, such as medical expenses, child care, and loss of earnings, and another possible $35,000.00 for rehabilitative services for victims claiming catastrophic injuries. In New Jersey this amounted to approximately 9.5 million in 2010.

The New Jersey Rules of Criminal Procedure require that every presentence report state the amount that the alleged victim has been paid from the VCCO.

N.J.S.A. 2C:44-6(3) provides that every presentence report shall include a report on any compensation paid by the VCCO, in my practice of criminal law for over 21 years, not one presentence report has contained that mandatory information.

The question arises as to why the VCCO payment or application information is not automatically made discoverable to the defense for purposes of cross-examination as to a possible motive in why the alleged victim made the charges against the defendant?

Therefore, in every applicable case it is mandatory that defense counsel request the information through a court order, if the prosecuting attorney is not willing to provide that information voluntarily. Even if the information is not helpful during trial, it nevertheless needs to be disclosed on the presentence report.

The criminal defense attorney who is involved in such a case and suspects that the victim might be falsely pursing the charges for a monetary gain must be diligent in being aware of that issue, for purposes of impeaching the credibility of the alleged victim.

Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., has been involved in many criminal cases in which the credibility of the alleged victim revolved around a monetary motive for bring the false charges against the defendant. In a number of cases this information led to the ultimate dismissal of the charges by the prosecutor’s office, through pretrial disposition, or after a verdict of acquittal by the jury.

Sanzone Firm

Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., Esq.

P.O. Box 261

277 North Broad Street

Elizabeth, N.J. 07207

(908) 354-7006

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