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Victim Impact Statements

Victims have the right to present a Victim Impact Statement and have it considered.


Who Can Make a Victim Impact Statement?


A Victim Impact Statement gives you a chance to let the court know how the crime has affected your life. It can be filled out by any person that the police, Crown Prosecutor or Victims Services identify as having been harmed or having suffered a physical, emotional or financial loss as the result of a reported crime. All victims must be informed that they can prepare a statement. All victims can decide for themselves whether they want to complete a Victim Impact Statement.

In some cases where there is more than one person who has been affected by the crime, the judge may choose to limit the number of Victim Impact Statements that can be filed. If the victim is deceased or incapable of making a statement because of illness, or another reason, a statement can be filled in by a relative or a person who is responsible for caring for the victim or a dependent of the victim.


What Goes in a Victim Impact Statement?


In the statement you can describe any physical, emotional or financial impacts of the crime. The statement is about you, not the accused, and should describe how the crime has affected you and any losses you have suffered because of the crime. You should identify your relationship to the offence and to any other victims of the offence. You need to include any concerns you have about probation conditions. For example, if you do not want any contact with the accused it is important to state this.

Certain things should not be included in a Victim Impact Statement. Information about the facts of the offence should not be included. This kind of information is usually given in any statements you made to the police about the crime and/or in testimony in court. Vengeful comments and complaints about the justice system and how the case was handled should not be included. Although the judge will consider how the crime has affected you when sentencing an offender, your statement should not include sentencing suggestions. It is up to the judge to decide on a sentence.


How is A Victim Impact Statement Completed?


The police or Police-based Victim Services will provide you with a form to fill out and sign. Forms are also available online. You may receive assistance in filling out the form but it must be completed in your own words. Your writing must be readable. If you want to complete a Victim Impact Statement but cannot write it out in either English or French you should discuss this with the police, Victims Services or the Crown Prosecutor. It may be possible for your statement to be recorded and presented in a different way.

Since sentencing may take place earlier than expected, it is a good idea to prepare your Victim Impact Statement ahead of the anticipated court date. You may update your statement any time before sentencing by contacting the police or the Crown Prosecutor.


How is a Victim Impact Statement Used?


If the case goes to court the Crown Prosecutor must disclose the Victim Impact Statement to the accused. It will only be filed with the court if there is a finding of guilt. Once your statement is filed with the court it becomes a public document. This means that it will be seen by many people responsible for the administration of justice. This could include, for example, a Crown Prosecutor preparing for a bail hearing, probation staff who are supervising the offender on probation and corrections staff who are making decisions about the release of an offender from jail. If you testify at a preliminary hearing, trial or sentencing hearing you may be cross-examined by the defence lawyer about your Victim Impact Statement.

The judge will consider your statement at the time of sentencing but the judge may decide not to allow certain parts of your statement to be used in court. The judge can postpone sentencing to give you time to prepare a statement, if you have not already done so.

You can ask to read your Victim Impact Statement out loud in court. If you want to read it out loud in court you must tell the Crown Prosecutor. If you do not want to read it yourself you can ask the judge to have someone read it for you. The judge will decide whether to allow this. You can present your statement in any way that the court approves. Whether the statement is read aloud or not, the judge will consider it when sentencing the offender.

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