New Jersey

Eyewitness Identification Reform

In 2001 the Attorney General’s Office issued guidelines for preparing and conducting photo and live lineup procedures that included blind/blinded administration, witness instructions, proper fillers and witness confidence statements. Because the New Jersey Attorney General has unique plenary authority over law enforcement, agencies were required to adopt these guidelines.

In a 2011 decision in State v. Henderson , New Jersey became the first jurisdiction in the country to reject the test for evaluating eyewitness identification evidence set forth in the 1977 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Manson v. Brathwaite and adopted by every state in the years since. The court also issued a set of comprehensive jury instructions for cases involving eyewitness identification evidence. Among them is an explanation of how memory works, a necessary precursor to understanding how conditions at the time of the crime or at the time of the identification procedure could affect the accuracy or reliability of a person’s memory.

Read the Attorney General's guidelines.

Read the State v. Henderson decision

Recording of Interrogations

State evidence rule requires that all custodial interrogations conducted in a place of detention be electronically recorded in certain felony investigations, from the Miranda warnings to the end. Non-compliance yields a jury instruction at defendant’s request. (Supreme Court Rule 3.17 (2005)

Read the court rule.

Post Conviction DNA Testing

During or after a term of incarceration, a person who was convicted of a crime is eligible to apply for post-conviction DNA testing with the trial court that entered the judgment of conviction. Effective: 2002; Amended most recently: 2015.

Read the statute.

Evidence Preservation

State Attorney General Guidelines require the automatic preservation of biological evidence in relation to a crime for as long as a person connected with that case or investigation remains in custody, including community supervision. Effective: 2011.

New Jersey’s statute meets the best practices standards outlined by the NIST Technical Working Group on Biological Evidence Preservation.

Read the guidelines here.

Exoneree Compensation

New Jersey allows wrongfully convicted persons who "did not plead guilty to the crime for which he was convicted" (within two years from release or pardon) to receive compensate for twice the amount of their income in the year prior to incarceration or $50,000 per year of incarceration, whichever is greater. An individual may also be awarded non-monetary relief including: vocational training, tuition assistance, counseling, housing assistance, and health insurance coverage. Effective: 1997; Amended most recently: 2013.

Read the statute.

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