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Domestic Violence Hotline
1.800.799.SAFE (7233)
National Dating Abuse Helpline
1.866.331.9474 / Text: LOVEIS (77054)
Homicide/Major Crimes Tip Line
Essex County Family Justice Center
Essex County Child Advocacy Center:
Wynona’s House
Essex County Rape Crisis Center:
Family Service League
1.877.733.CARE (2273)
N.J. Coalition Against Human Trafficking
c/o Jewish Federation of Greater
Metro West of New Jersey


1.888.373.7888 (24-Hour Hotline)
Text: "BeFree" or 233733



Essex County Prosecutor’s
Office of Victim-Witness Advocacy
Essex County Prosecutor’s Office
1.973.621.4700 (

Information by Crime

Child Abuse
Domestic Violence
Financial Crimes
Gang Violence
Hate Crimes
Juvenile Crimes
Property Crimes
Sexual Assault

Criminal Prosecution
Q. What is the difference between the Assistant Prosecutor
     and the Defense Attorney?
A. The assistant prosecutor represents the State of New Jersey in the criminal process. The defense attorney represents the person accused of committing the crime.
Q. What is bail?
A. Bail is the amount of money someone charged with a crime must pay to get out of jail while the case is pending. It is designed to guarantee the person will appear in court when ordered to do so.
Q. When do I need to appear in court?
A. Your victim witness advocate will let you know about every major court event. It is not necessary for you to attend every proceeding, but you are given the option to attend.
Q. Who is the defendant?
A. The defendant is the person accused of committing a crime.
Q. Who is my lawyer?
A. As a victim you do not have a lawyer in criminal proceedings. The assistant prosecutor does not personally represent you, although he or she should confer with you every step of the way.
Q. What if I want to drop the charges?
A. 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.
Q. What is a status conference?
A. A status conference is a routine meeting held before the judge with the defense lawyer and prosecutor. The goal of these periodical meetings is to ensure the case is moving along. The judge may use these court appearances to check on whether both sides have all the information needed for the case to proceed or to inquire about plea negotiations.
Q. What is a plea agreement ?
A. 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.
Q. What is an arraignment ?
A. An arraignment is when a person accused of a crime makes his or her first appearance in court and enters a plea. Defendants are typically arraigned within days of arrest and arraigned again after they have been indicted. Most defendants enter a not guilty plea at this stage of the proceedings.
Q. Do I have a say in what happens to a defendant ?
A. Yes. Victims are allowed to give what is known as a Victim Impact Statement at the time of sentencing, explaining how they were affected by the crime, what injuries they sustained, what financial losses they suffered and what sentence they believe should be imposed. You may request a Victim Impact Form from your Victim Witness Advocate and he or she will give it to the assistant prosecutor.
Q. Will I be notified about the defendant's release ?
A. Yes. We do our best to make sure every witness is notified prior to the release of a defendant. The best way to ensure that you are notified is to sign up for The State Attorney General's V.I.N.E. (Victim Information Notification Everyday) system, which sends letters and phone calls notifying victims of a defendant's release. Ask your Victim Witness Advocate to assist you in registering you for the VINE notification system. Also, make sure you provide you advocate with up-to-date contact information for reaching you.
Q. What is the Grand Jury ?
A. The Grand Jury is made up of 23 ordinary citizens who meet in private and vote to formally charge someone who has been accused of a crime. Unlike a regular trial, the vote in a grand jury trial does not have to be unanimous. Only a majority vote is needed to return an indictment against a defendant.
Q. What documents should I keep ?
A. Keep all your documents. Any letters you receive from our office or documents you think might be relevant to the case should be saved. In addition, when you speak to someone over the telephone write down their name and phone number in case you need to get in touch with them later.
Q. What is a Prosecution File Number ?
A. This is a number assigned to your case. It is used by employees to identify your case when you call or have a question. Keep it handy if possible.
Q. Is the Office of Victim-Witness Advocacy the same as
     the Victims of Crime Compensation Office (VCCO) ?
A. No. You can pick up VCCO application forms at our office, but we are two separate operations. The VCCO is run by the State of New Jersey. We communicate with the VCCO by providing police reports and other information to determine if you are eligible for compensation, but we are different agencies.
Q. Why do I need a Victim-Witness Advocate ?
A. The Victim-Witness Advocate is your main point of contact when you have a question about your case. He or she should provide you with information about upcoming events and should be able to explain the process.
Q. I've been assaulted. Will my case be handled by the Essex County
     Prosecutor's Office or by the municipal court where the incident occurred ?
A. It depends on the severity of your injuries. If you suffered life threatening injuries and the person is charged with aggravated assault, the case will be handled by the Essex County Prosecutor's Office. If it is a simple assault, the case may remain at the local level.
Q. My child is constantly being assaulted by another child.
     Is this just bullying or is this assault? What's the difference ?
A. If your child is being hit, punched or pushed, this is an assault. He or she may also be a victim of bullying which can include assault but may also include other forms of harassment.
Child Abuse
Q. Who do I contact to report child abuse ?
A. Anyone who suspects a child is being abused or neglected should call 911 or 1-877-NJ ABUSE (1-877-652-2873). You can make the report anonymously.
Q. Will the child automatically be taken away from his or her parent(s) ?
A. No. An investigation will be launched. If the child appears to be in immediate danger, he or she may be removed from the home, but not always. It depends on the facts of the case.
Q. Suppose I'm not sure, but believe the child is being abuse? What should I do ?
A. Make the call and let the professionals determine precisely what is occurring.
Q. What constitutes child abuse ?
A. Child abuse ranges from leaving a young child unattended for long periods of time to severely beating or even starving a child.
Q. What if I don't want to press charges, but only want the abuse to stop ?
A. Once you report the abuse, professionals will decide what course of action is best for the particular situation.
Q. If I report corruption by a public worker, what will happen to that person ?
A. The allegations will be investigated by the Professional Standard Bureau of the Essex County Prosecutor's Office. When appropriate, criminal charges will be brought against the person. In other situations administrative action may be taken by the employer.
Q. Are corruption cases mainly for politicians? What other public employees
     can be charged with corruption and for what types of acts ?
A. Anyone employed by a public agency can be charged with corruption if he or she engages in misconduct on the job or in relation to his or her employment.
Cyber Crimes
Q. What crimes fall under this category ?
A. Cyber crimes are crimes that occur using the Internet or electronic devices. They include harassment, intimidation, identity theft, distribution of child pornography, and other crimes.
Q. If someone hacks into my personal online accounts is that cyber crime ?
A. Yes. Hacking into someone's bank account or other personal records and using that information for illicit purposes would constitute a cyber crime.
Domestic Violence
Q. If I report domestic violence, will my partner go to jail ?
A. Maybe. Not everyone charged with an incident of domestic violence is incarcerated. It depends on the severity of the offense and the facts of the particular case.
Q. Is being hit by my partner once considered domestic violence ?
A. Yes. Any physical assault would constitute domestic violence even if it occurs on a single occasion.
Q. If my partner hits other members of my family, is that considered
     domestic violence ?
A. Yes. Domestic violence is any assault against people in a family-type situation. So, if your partner hits your children, for example, that is considered domestic violence.
Q. Will I be charged with domestic violence if I fight back ?
A. You may be. If you hit your partner that also constitutes an assault and may be the basis of a counter charge against you.
Elder Abuse
Q. I believe a caregiver is abusing my elderly relative, what should I do ?
A. If you are calling from New Jersey to report suspected abuse the number is 1-800-792-8820. If you are calling from outside New Jersey the number is 609-341-5567.
Financial Crimes
Q. If someone steals my identity, will the Prosecutors Office handle my case ?
A. Yes. Identity theft is covered under a state law that makes it a crime to impersonate someone else or to assume a false identity to obtain a benefit or services.
Q. I lost my credit cards and someone used them. What do I do ?
A. First report the theft to the local police. Call your creditors and the businesses that provided credit in your name and let them know in writing you have been the victim of identity theft. Close out your old accounts and obtain new account and personal identification numbers. Keep a record of all your communications.
Gang Violence
Q. I am afraid of the gang activity where I live and I want to do something about it.
     What should I do ?
A. You can anonymously report criminal activity you see in your neighborhood to the local police.
Q. Who will protect me if I report gang violence or gang activity
    in my neighborhood ?
A. If you become a witness in a case handled by the Essex County Prosecutor's Office, there are a number of ways that we will protect you depending on the facts of the case. We may provide police protection. Or, we may relocate you and/or members of your family temporarily or permanently.
Hate Crimes
Q. If someone uses a racial or sexual slur against me, is that considered a hate crime?
A. No a racial or sexual slur alone does not constitute a hate crime. Hate crimes occur when someone is targeted for an assault, murder or some other attack because of race, religion, gender, disability or sexual orientation. When a prosecutor includes a hate crime charge in a case it enhances the penalties the person may face if convicted of a hate crime.
Q. Does anyone ever really get prosecuted for hate crimes?
A. Yes people are prosecuted for hate crimes, but it is not a common charge because it is often difficult to prove.
Q. A family member was murdered and we don't have the money for a funeral.
     What should we do?
A. The N.J. Victims of Crime Compensation Office (VCCO) will pay funeral costs up to $5,000 in cases where the deceased is deemed to be an "innocent victim." A number of factors disqualify a victim's family from receiving these funds. If the person was committing a crime at the time of his or her death, has outstanding warrants, or was killed in a state prison or county jail, the family is not eligible for the funeral benefits.
Q. The person who murdered my family member has never been caught.
     What happens to the case?
A. Murder cases are never closed until a suspect has been captured and prosecuted. Consequently, the case will remain open, detectives will be assigned to the case and the investigation will continue. However, it is important to know that as time passes it becomes increasingly unlikely that there will be a successful prosecution.
Q. Does New Jersey have the death penalty?
A. No. The death penalty was abolished in New Jersey in December of 2007.
Q. How much prison time can I expect a person who murdered my family member
     to receive?
A. If a defendant is convicted of purposeful and knowing murder he or she will be sentenced to a minimum of 30 years before parole eligibility. A conviction for aggravated manslaughter or manslaughter carries a shorter sentence, usually in the 10 to 20 years range.
Property Crimes
Q. How long does it take to recover items stolen from me but
     needed by the Prosecutor's Office for evidence?
A. Items that are used as evidence in a case typically are retained until after the case is tried.
Q. If my home is burglarized will the Prosecutor's Office handle my case?
A. The initial investigation is usually handled by the local police. If an arrest is made, the Prosecutor's Office will try the case.
Q. If I am robbed on the street, will the Prosecutor' Office handle my case?
A. The initial investigation will be handled by the local police department. After an arrest is made the Prosecutor's Office will review the case, and if appropriate, prepare the case for Grand Jury presentation and eventual trial or plea disposition.
Q. If someone breaks into my place of business, will the Prosecutor's Office
     handle my case?
A. The initial investigation will be handled by the municipal police department. After an arrest is made the Prosecutor' Office will prepare the case for trial.
Sexual Assault
Q. I was sexually assaulted. Will I have to testify against my perpetrator in open court?
A. Yes you will have to testify in open court.
Q. If my child was raped, will he or she have to talk to several people
     about the incident?
A. We have taken steps through our Child Advocacy Center to reduce the number of times a victim has to tell his or her story. A team of professionals work together, under one roof, to provide coordinated services to victims of family violence.