What is the difference between the Assistant Prosecutor and the Defense Attorney?
The Assistant Prosecutor represents the State of New Jersey in the criminal process. The Defense Attorney represents the person accused of committing the crime.
When do I need to appear in court?
The Office of Victim/Witness Advocacy will notify you via letter about a court event. It is not necessary for you to attend every proceeding, but you are given the option to attend.
Who is the defendant?
The defendant is the person accused of committing a crime.
Who is my lawyer?
As a victim, you do not have a lawyer in criminal proceedings. The Assistant Prosecutor does not personally represent you, although they should confer with you every step of the way.
What if I want to drop the charges?
Your decision to drop the charges does not necessarily mean the case will end. If there is other compelling evidence, the case may go forward without your testimony or assistance. This depends on the facts of the specific case.
What is a plea agreement?
A plea agreement occurs when a defendant agrees to plead guilty in exchange for having other charges dismissed. Typically, the defendant is given a shorter sentence than he or she would have faced if convicted at trial. Victims are sometimes unhappy with plea agreements, but they are appropriate in some cases when the evidence is not as compelling as needed for the prosecutor to confidently present the case before a jury. It also spares victims the ordeal of a trial.
Do I have a say in what happens to a defendant?
Yes, victims are allowed to provide what is known as a Victim Notification Form at the time of sentencing. This form helps to explain how victims were affected by the crime, what injuries they sustained, what financial losses they suffered and what sentence they believe should be imposed.
Will I be notified about the defendant’s release?
Yes, we do our best to notify victims prior to the release of a defendant. The best way to ensure that you are notified is to register with VINELink https://www.vinelink.com which will notify via call, text, email, or letter of a defendant’s release. If you require assistance in registering, please contact the Office of Victim/Witness Advocacy. Also, please make sure to contact the Office with any and all of your updated contact information.
What is a Grand Jury?
A Grand Jury is made up of 23 ordinary citizens who determine whether there is enough creditable evidence to indict the defendant. The vote in a Grand Jury is a majority vote for a return of an indictment against a defendant.
What documents should I keep?
Maintain all of the documents that you receive or are relevant to the case in one location. It is also important that every time you speak with someone, you acquire their full name, title and phone number should you need to contact them or provide their information to another agency.
What is a Prosecutor File Number or Case Number?
This is a number assigned to your case. It is used by the Prosecutor’s Office to identify your case when you call or have a question. Keep it on-hand if possible.
Is the Office of Victim/Witness Advocacy the same as the Victims of Crime Compensation Office?
No, they are two separate operations. However, you may obtain information and assistance about the VCCO from the Office of Victim/Witness Advocacy, and we communicate with the VCCO by providing police reports and other information necessary to process your claim. You can obtain information and file for an application directly at https://www.nj.gov/oag/njvictims/home.html