A Guide for Writing Victim Impact Statements

Victim Impact Statements are a powerful tool used in the sentencing phase of a violent criminal case by the Prosecuting Team. Your statement will be a part of the court record. This is your statement to let the judge (the court) know how this crime has and continues to affect you and your family. All Rights Reserved. Marcia Neely is a teacher who holds both a MS degree in Reading & Literacy and a Ed Specialist degree in Curriculum & Instruction. Victim impact statements are written or an oral accounts from crime victims about how a crime has affected them. The statement itself can be presented orally, in writing, and in audiotape or videotape forms. Many states in the U.

Victim Impact Statements Victim Support Services

S. Allow victim impact statements at some phase of criminal sentencing. These statements are also permitted in pre-sentencing reports and at parole hearings. The purpose of victim impact statements is to allow victims of a crime the opportunity to personally describe the impact of the crime to the judge, court, or parole board. These statements are given during the decision making process, typically prior to or during plea bargaining, sentencing, or parole. The judge in each specific court case uses this pertinent information many times to help determine a criminal's sentence. Later, parole boards may use such information to help decide whether to grant a parole.

Many victims describe the emotional, physical, and financial damage caused by the crime. In addition, they may detail any medical or psychological treatments required by the victim or his or her family members. In almost all cases, the statement includes the victim's views on the crime and/or the offender, as well as the victim's views on an appropriate sentence. For example, a theft victim might write a letter that describes her mental state after the crime. In this letter, the victim might describe the amount of fear and lack of enjoyment experienced at home since the event. Or the victim might issue a verbal statement in court that includes any financial loss that she has experienced or money she spent safeguarding the house as a result of burglary, such as for an alarm system and cameras. Crime victims can sometimes feel that they’re at the mercy of the justice system.

Victim Impact Statements National Center for Victims of

If they have any say in the trial proceedings at all, it’s usually as witnesses and they can only answer the questions put to them. Preparing a victim impact statement offers victims an opportunity to express their feelings to the judge or the parole board when it comes to sentencing issues. Victim impact statements don’t have to follow a prescribed legal format. You’re free to tell the court in your own words whatever you want the judge or parole panel to know. You might want to talk about how the crime affected you financially, such as because it caused you to lose your job or because you had to come out of pocket for medical bills or counseling fees. You can explain how your life is different now from how it was before the crime occurred, both for you and your family. The defendant has a right to dispute facts you present, but he can’t dispute your feelings.

Most states allow you to give your statement in person, but this might be uncomfortable for you if the defendant is present. If you’d rather not do this, contact the court’s victim advocacy service to see if you can submit a video or audio recording instead. Some courts might even let a friend or family member make the statement for you. You can also just submit a written statement to the court. The victim advocacy service can help you write it. Beverly Bird has been writing professionally since 6988. She is the author of several novels including the bestselling Comes the Rain and With Every Breath.

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