Victim Impact Statement
What is a Victim Impact Statement?
As a victim of a serious crime, you have the right to submit a written Victim Impact Statement to express how a crime has impacted you and others close to you. This statement allows for you to write about the physical, emotional and financial effects of the crime, as well as any other major life changes resulting from the crime. Sometimes the Victim Impact Statement is in writing. Other times, it may be a statement made in person in the courtroom.
How is it Used?
A Victim Impact Statement is a tool used in sentencing that gives you a voice. After an offender is convicted, the judge can order a presentence report prepared by a probation and parole officer to assist in determining the offender’s punishment. This report focuses on the crime, the offender’s background, and any criminal history for the offender. The Victim Impact Statement is part of the presentence report.
If you choose to submit a Victim Impact Statement, it will become part of the official court record. Your statement will be read by the judge, prosecutor, probation officer and defense attorney. The offender will also be able to read what you have written. No personal contact information is included in the Victim Impact Statement.
Victim Impact Statement Tips
- Determine if you qualify as the “victim” in the case before writing a statement.
- Use additional paper if necessary
- Write or type clearly & concisely
- Make statement readable in about 5 minutes.
- Discuss characteristics of the life of the victim before the crime. List specific examples.
- Discuss feelings DURING the crime
- Discuss characteristics of the life of the victim after the crime. List specific examples.
- Write your statement as “awful” as it really is (don’t be bashful)
- As difficult as it may be, please use the word associated with the crime. For example, if you are raped, use this word. Do not minimize what happened by merely describing the offense as an “assault”. If someone dear to you was murdered, use this word. Do not minimize what happened by describing the offense as a “death”.
- Repeat evidence already presented.
- Bad mouth the defendant or defense attorney.
- Discuss new evidence not presented at trial.
- Tell the judge how much time you think the defendant should get.