Victim impact statements are written from you as a victim of crime, in your own words, about how the crime has affected you. The purpose of victim impact statements is to allow crime victims, during the decision-making process on sentencing, to describe to the court the impact of the crime. A judge may use information from these statements to help determine an offender's sentence.
Completing a victim impact statement, through written letter or the completion of a provided form, is voluntary. There are several reasons why Victim Impact Statements are beneficial:
The judge gets to hear your side of the story. This is usually the first time this occurs. Throughout the criminal justice process, the focus is on the offender. Hearing from those that are affected by the crime puts a face with the victim.
You have a chance to tell the judge how you want sentencing to occur. More often than not, cases conclude by a plea offer. Sometimes the prosecutor and defense have agreed to a recommended amount of time. The judge is not bound by that agreement. You can make a difference in the amount of time an offender receives by speaking up. This is true in cases that go to trial as well.
You have the opportunity to address the court, and the offender by way of the court, about how the crime has affected you. Many find this helpful in the journey of victimization. Letting those know how they harmed you can be beneficial for emotional well-being.
The impact statement becomes part of the offender’s permanent file. It is a reminder of the harm they caused you.
If you have questions or would like assistance with completing a victim impact statement for the court, please contact the Victim Witness Assistance Unit at (308) 233-5263 or Email.