Victim Impact Statement Booklet

Section 1: Defining a Victim Impact Statement

Victim Impact Statements provide an opportunity for you to describe to the court the impact the crime has had on your life.

It may be the only opportunity you have to participate in the criminal justice process or to address the offender directly. A Victim Impact Statement isn’t a perfect essay; it’s about writing from your heart. It presents the true realities of victimization with those who haven’t gone through it themselves and to the offender who has hurt you.

It’s about writing from your heart.

Every victim’s physical, emotional, and financial reaction is unique. The court is often bound by predetermined guidelines at sentencing. If discretion is allowed, however, it is important that the judge have access to as much information as you can provide about how your life has been negatively impacted by the offense committed against you or your loved one. Impact statements may help the judge determine the offender’s sentence or place an order for restitution. The court can order the offender to pay you for crime-related expenses.

This money is called restitution. Some judges are reluctant to order restitution, especially when the offender is going to prison and may have limited opportunities to earn money. However, most state law requires a judge to listen to your request and to consider restitution if your request is reasonable.

Every victim’s reaction is unique.

It is also important to remember that members of the media often have substantial interest in crime victims. Victim Impact Statements and the stories they generate may help educate the public about the effects of crime. Therefore, the public could become more sensitive to victims because they are aware of the impact.

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