What is a Victim Impact Statement?
Victims of crime and their families have the right to participate, and to be heard in the criminal justice system through the use of Victim Impact Statements.
A Victim Impact Statement provides the victim with an opportunity to address the court prior to sentencing.
Judges and other criminal justice system personnel have little opportunity to communicate how the crime has affected the victim or secondary victims.
A Victim Impact Statement is a resource that provides the court with essential data which leads to appropriate sentences and suitable restitution.
This opportunity also allows victims to personalize the crime and express the physical, emotional and financial impact the crime has had on them and their families.
A Victim Impact Statement can be written or oral.
It grants the victim not only an opportunity to provide information for the judge to consider at sentencing, but allows the victim to articulate the pain, anguish, and financial devastation the crime has caused.
Making a Victim Impact Statement
Under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 258B, section 3(p) as a victim of a crime you have the right to offer a verbal or written statement to the court after the defendant has been found guilty after a trial or has admitted to sufficient facts. This statement is referred to as a “Victim Impact Statement”.
The purpose of the statement is to give you an opportunity to explain to the Judge the physical, emotional and/or financial impact the crime has had on you. In addition, you may express to the Judge your views regarding the defendant’s sentence.
It is possible the defendant may want to plead guilty at a pre-trial hearing date, it is likely you would not be there in the event the defendant chooses to plead guilty at that time. If, however the Assistant District Attorney prosecuting the case knows that you would like to make an impact statement, he or she will inform the Judge and ask to continue the case to a later date so that you could be notified to come to court and make the impact statement.
You should know that even if you choose not to make a victim impact statement the Assistant District Attorney handling the case will make a sentencing recommendation. They will consider amongst other things, your feelings about the case. For that reason, the Assistant District Attorney or Victim/Witness Advocate will be contacting you about your feelings regarding the pending case.
Please let our office know whether or not you want to be notified so that you can come to court to make a victim impact statement. If we do not hear from you, we will assume that you have chosen not to make a victim impact statement.
Any additional questions about how to prepare a victim impact statement or about the time and place of sentencing should be addressed to the prosecutor or advocate.