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. S.

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Victim Impact Statements Victim Support Services

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. 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. Bird also has extensive experience as a paralegal, primarily in the areas of divorce and family law, bankruptcy and estate law. She covers many legal topics in her articles. A Victim Impact Statement is a written or oral statement presented to the court at the sentencing of the defendant.   More often than not, numerous individuals write letters to the sentencing judge and only a few of those directly connected to the crime speak at sentencing.   Victim Impact Statements were created as an opportunity for the judge to hear how a criminal action has affected you and those that you love.   Victim Impact Statements are not limited to the courts.   Many times, probation or paroling agencies allow for an opportunity to present a statement as well.

Victim Impact Statements National Center for Victims of

As you are preparing your impact statement, you may find that using the following questions can guide you.   Remember that writing about your feelings may be very painful, so be sure to pace yourself and don’t feel that you need to have it “perfect”.   Be gentle with yourself and take as many breaks as you need.   As you are preparing your statement, you may find that the following questions can guide you: The above guidelines do not cover the totality of the impact of crime, but may be used as a starting point.  Victim Impact statements are unique to you and people have various ways of expressing how crime has affected them.   Even though guidelines are typically given to you before sentencing, and there is much flexibility in how you present your statement, there are things you will need to take into consideration. Every morning when I wake up, I have to remind myself that my attacker won’t be able to hurt me today. If I don’t tell myself that I simply can’t get out of bed.   Since I was assaulted I have lost the full function of my right leg. I still have to go to the doctor for physical therapy and they fear that I still won’t be able to walk the same. I used to love to run, until my attacker took that away from me.   It hurts emotionally and physically to even make it to work in the morning. When I drive past the place that this all happened I try not to shake in fear.   I can’t sleep most nights without nightmares of my attacker. I so desperately want my life back. The life I had before he took my life away. What Happens to my Victim Impact Statement?

  Do I Have to Read it in Court? If you would like to write a VIS please contact the prosecutor as soon as possible. The prosecutor will advise you on the required format for the VIS if you wish to write your own or will make arrangements for a professional report. Recording victim impact information can be an emotional process. Although the writing of a statement should be your own, allow friends, family or a victim support worker to support you while you write it. Allow yourself enough time to write a statement and honestly assess what the impact of the crime has been. For some victims, writing a statement allows them an opportunity to regain control and be heard as an individual. You should be aware that Crown counsel must also provide a copy of your statement to the defence counsel or the accused prior to sentencing and you can be questioned in court on what you have written. If you wish to use this article online or in print, please to request permission. An impact statement, in the broadest sense, is a (can be written or oral) which is intended to state an effect, result or impact of something or someone to an organization or individual. A victim impact statement is a statement usually presented by a crime victim usually stating the effects of a crime on his/her life. During a court proceeding, the victim narrates harmful effects of the crime or actions of an accused or convicted person toward the victim, his/her property or immediate family. A victim impact statement can be delivered through a verbal statement or through a written document like other impact statements (e. G. , ). Upon deciding a sentence, victim impact statements usually serve as evidence on the severity of the crime committed by an offender, which may help the judge in determining his/her appropriate sentence or punishment.

Upon processing a parole for the offender, for victim may be used by the parole board as necessary information to decide the conditions in granting the parole. That being said, it is safe to say that victim impact statements can also be used as the basis whether or not to acquit or convict an offender. In most cases,  for victim impact do not require the audience of a victim in court, but still gives the victim a chance to aid in the crime investigation.

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