TRENTON, N.J. – By a 74-0 vote, the Assembly passed a bill (A3391/S498), sponsored by Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso, amending the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act of 1971 to increase eligibility and financial support for victims. It now heads to the governor’s desk for his signature.
A 2018 investigation by NJ Advance Media found that the state’s Victims of Crime Compensation Office was failing to meet the needs of victims.
“We need to do more for the victims and families who have already suffered,” said DiMaso (R-Monmouth). “Victims and their families deserve fair compensation that will help them move forward following a tragedy.”
The bill increases the legal fees benefit from $3,000 to $10,000 so that more victims of crime may receive pro bono legal assistance. In addition, the bill updates the definition of a victim to match existing state law so that a person who suffers personal, physical, or psychological injury or death resulting from a crime may be awarded compensation. The Victims of Crime Compensation Office must make a determination of payment in 90 days and then make a payment in 30 days.
“Some of the wounds suffered by victims may not be visible, but may last much longer than physical ones,” said DiMaso (R-Monmouth). “Whether it’s a parent seeking compensation for her child’s deceased father or a victim seeking payment after a life-altering injury, it’s important they are able to navigate the process in a timely manner so they can make financial plans.”
The bill also expands the list of crimes for which a victim can receive compensation to include simple assault, disorderly conduct and leaving the scene of an accident, and increases the time limit on filing a claim from three to five years. It also adds the ability of a parent and others with close personal relationships to collect in some cases.
The Senate passed the bill by a 38-0 vote in June.