A Guide for Writing Victim Impact Statements
How To Write a Victim Impact Statement
Among the most effective tools victims have in the fight against crime is the victim impact statement, which is used at the sentencing of defendants and, in many states, at parole hearings. All 50 states allow some form of victim impact information at sentencing. Most states allow oral or written statements, or both, from the victim at the sentencing hearing and require victim impact information to be included in the pre-sentence report and given to the judge before imposing sentence. In most states, victim impact statements also are allowed at parole hearings; in other states a copy of the original statement is attached to the offender's file to be reviewed by the parole board. Some states allow these statements to be updated by the victims to include any additional impact the original crime has had on their lives. In a few states, victim impact statements are allowed a bail hearings , pretrial release hearings, and plea bargain hearings.
A Victim Impact Statement is a written or oral statement presented to the court at the sentencing of the defendant. Many times victims, their family members, and friends of the victim participate in both written and verbal statements. More often than not, numerous individuals write letters to the sentencing judge and only a few of those directly connected to the crime speak at sentencing.
A victim impact statement is a statement from a victim of crime that describes the physical or emotional harm, property damage or economic loss they have suffered as the victim of an offence. A victim of crime has the right to present a victim impact statement and to have the Court or Review Board take it into account. A victim can also ask the Court to allow them to present their statement in another way such as having the prosecutor, the Court, or a victim service worker read it.