Victim Impact Statements: Your Right To Be Heard
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
What is a Victim Impact Statement?
A victim impact statement is a written or oral statement prepared by victims or loved ones to share the emotional, physical, and financial impact of the crime. These statements are voluntary and allow the people most directly affected by the crime to address the Court during the sentencing proceeding.
Why Prepare a Victim Impact Statement?
Noone knows better than you how this crime has affected your life. It is very important for the Court to understand how this crime has changed your life and the lives of your loved ones. A victim impact statement provides that opportunity and is a powerful way to exercise your right to be heard.
Consider that victim impact statements:
- inform the Court of the harm suffered by the victim
- refocus the Court’s attention on the victim - to the human cost of the crime
- promote emotional healing and empowerment
- personalize the crime and elevate the status of the victim
- confront offenders with the consequences of their crime and aid in their rehabilitation
How Do I Prepare a Victim Impact Statement?
The Victim Witness Program can provide you with a victim impact form that will help focus your comments on the impact of this crime (age appropriate forms are available for children and teens). Or you can develop your own statement in a format that is easiest for you to convey your feelings such as a letter, poetry, drawings, or journal entries. Whatever format you choose, your victim impact statement should focus on the following areas:
- the emotional impact of the crime
- the physical effects of the crime
- the financial impact experienced as a result of the crime
- please do NOT recount the crime itself
Who Will See My Victim Impact Statement?
The sentencing judge will view your statement and consider your comments when deciding on an appropriate sentence for the defendant. By law, the defendant will also view your statement. Therefore, do NOT include your address or other personal information on your victim impact statement.
Oral victim impact statements are presented to the Court during the sentencing proceeding. You, or someone on your behalf, will present your statement in open court and in the presence of the defendant.
If you require assistance preparing your victim impact statement, please contact Perry County Victim Witness Program