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Crime victims have the right to submit what are known as victim impact statements, and most State Attorney’s Offices strongly encourage victims to exercise this important right. Check with your local State Attorney’s Office to find out more information about the process in your state.
What is a victim impact statement?
In an impact statement, a victim provides an explanation of how the crime affected you, your family, or even your community. Statements should include:
- A “brief” summary of the harm or trauma suffered by the victim or family as a result of the crime.
- A summary of the economic loss or damage suffered by the victim as a result of the crime. Include requests for restitution for out-of-pocket expenses.
- A concise statement of what outcome the victim would like and the reasons to support this opinion, including support for or opposition to treatment or community service programs.
- Highlights about the victim, past accomplishments, hopes for the future, and what the crime has done to change these activities.
- The overall effect the crime has had on the victim and family.
Why is a victim impact statement so important?
After a defendant pleads guilty or is found guilty of a crime, a Judge sentences the defendant. The Judge responsible for sentencing the defendant reads and considers victim impact statements before setting the sentence.
What else should I know about victim impact statements?
A victim impact statement submitted to the Court becomes part of the criminal case file. As a result, everyone involved in the case will receive a copy, including the Judge, prosecutor, defendant, defense lawyer, and probation officer.