Bill Would Also Keep Victims’ Requests Confidential
TRENTON – Bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean Jr. allowing crime victims to get official records related to a crime they suffered at no cost, and ensuring their requests are kept confidential, was approved today by the Senate. It now heads to the governor’s desk.
“Crime victims often deal with a number of very difficult issues related to their victimization. They should not also be burdened with having to pay for records or other documents related to the crime they suffered,” said Senator Weinberg (D-Bergen). “Providing documents pertaining to their case free of charge is the right thing to do. This bill is a compassionate and common sense step in advancing victims’ rights.”
“The tolls of being victimized are already high enough,” said Kean (R-Union). “Vulnerable and suffering victims deserve free, easy access to public records in this way, so that they can better protect themselves and their families.”
Under the bill (S-1524), a crime victim would not be charged for any official records related to the crime. Records would include, but not be limited to, a law enforcement report, domestic violence report or restraining order. The measure would also amend the Open Public Records Act to keep the records requests from being disclosed.
“Victims who are taking steps to assure their own safety should not have to fear that the process they are undertaking could be publicly disclosed,” said Senator Weinberg. “Keeping these information requests private is important to helping victims feel comfortable in doing what is necessary to protect themselves.”
The Assembly approved the bill in May by a vote of 77-0-1. The Senate approved it 38-0. The law would take effect on the first day of the fourth month following enactment.