What is a Victim Impact Statement and how is it used?
Victim Impact Statements provide an opportunity for your voice to be heard by our criminal justice system. When completed, it is an important document that describes how the crime has affected you and your loved ones, and provides input to the court concerning how best to hold the offender accountable for the harm s/he has caused.
As a crime victim, you have the opportunity to use this statement to describe how this crime affected you and others close to you. This statement has space for you to:
- Describe the crime and its physical, emotional, and financial effects on you and your loved ones.
- Address any concerns you may have about your safety and security.
- Explain any changes in your daily life since the crime occurred.
- Offer suggestions for a resolution that is fair, and provide information that will give the offender the opportunity to take responsibility for actions that caused you harm and loss.
If the defendant pleads guilty or is found guilty after trial, you also have a right to address the court verbally. If you would like to do so, the Crime Victim Advocate is available to assist you in the process.
Completing the Statement is Voluntary
You do not have to fill out a victim impact statement. However, it may be helpful to the judge when he or she decides what sentence the defendant should receive, and/or any money the defendant may have to reimburse you for expenses you have paid or owe because of this crime. If the judge orders the defendant to pay you restitution, there is no guarantee when the defendant will be able to pay or if the entire amount will be paid. However, a court order for the full amount of your losses is an important component for victims to pursue civil remedies for all of the financial losses associated with this crime. Whether or not you choose to submit a victim impact statement is a decision made by you and your family. It is a voluntary right that you have as a victim of crime.
Suggestions for Completing Your Victim Impact Statement
Please answer as many questions as you wish. If you need more space, you can use additional pages and simply attach them to the form when you return it.
Only you know how to best describe the effects this crime has had on you and those close to you. We realize it may be difficult to describe in words how this crime has affected you, your family and friends. However, your input is vital to determining a sentence that is fair and just, and holding the offender accountable for the harm s/he caused you. The questions that follow are designed to help you and your family complete this important process.
If you would like to tell the court about the emotional impact of this crime, you may wish to consider:
- How this crime has affected your lifestyle or those close to you.
- How your feelings about yourself or your life have changed since the crime.
- How your ability to relate to others has changed.
- Any counseling or other support you have obtained to help you cope.
If you or your family members were injured, you may wish to tell the court about the physical impact of this crime. You may wish to describe:
- The specific physical injuries you or members of your family suffered.
- How long your injuries lasted or how long they are expected to last.
- Any medical treatment you have received or expect to receive in the future.
- How your physical injuries have affected your lifestyle, i.e. ability to work, enjoy recreational pursuits, etc.