What is a Victim Impact Statement and how is it used?
Victim impact statements provide an opportunity for victims voices to be heard by our justice system if the defendant pleads guilty or is found guilty or is found guilty after trial. Filling out a Statement is a right victims have but is completely voluntary.Your impact statement will help the judge understand how the crime has affected you and your loved ones. provides input into how the court can best hold the offender accountable for the harm s/he has caused.
It is suggested to describe the crime and its physical, emotional, and financial effects it as had on you and your loved ones. Discuss any concerns you may have about your safety and security. Address any changes in your life you may have experienced since the crime occurred. Offer suggestions for a resolution that is fair, and provide information that will give the offender an opportunity to take responsibility for actions that caused you harm and loss.
You do not have to fill out a victim impact statement. However, it is your right to do so and 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, or owe as a result of this crime. Whether or not you choose to submit a victim impact statement is a decision made by the victim and thier family.
Suggestions for Completing Your Victim Impact Statement
The following suggestions and the attached victim impact statement form are offered only as a guide. Please feel free to type your statement as you see fit adding an original signature for the court file or legibly write. If you need more space, you can use additional pages and simply attach them.
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 he or she caused you.
Some individuals find it helpful to write a rough draft of their statement before completing the final statement. If you should need any assistance in completing your impact statement, please feel free to contact me at (509) 650-3219.
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 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.
Who Has Access to Your Victim Impact Statement?
Your statement will become an official court document after it is given to the court, and will become part of the defendant’s permanent file. The judge, prosecutor, the defendant, and the defendant’s attorney will be able to read what you have written. In addition, prison and parole officials may read your statement if the defendant is sentenced to a prison/detention term.
You also have the right to read or have your statement read by the Victim Witness Coordinator to the court at the time of sentencing. If you would like to do so, please contact our office so we can facilitate that for you.
The information you provide in your victim impact statement can be utilized to help the offender understand how his/her criminal/delinquent actions have affected your life. While your personal contact information will not be revealed, the information you provide about victim impact – with your permission – may be integrated into offender casework to address personal accountability and victim empathy issues.