Victim Impact Statement

Guidelines for making a Victim Impact Statement

What is a victim impact statement?

A victim impact statement is information on how an offence has affected you. The information you provide in your victim impact statement will be considered by the judge at sentencing and considered a public document.

PART 1 – PURPOSE OF A VICTIM IMPACT STATEMENT

The purpose of a victim impact statement is to:

  • provide a means for the court to focus on how the offence has affected you
  • gives you an opportunity to participate in the criminal justice process
  • gives you an opportunity to tell the court and the offender how an offence has affected you
  • can sometimes help you recover from the effects of a crime.

Victim impact statements are one of many factors the judge must balance in order to arrive at an appropriate outcome.

The offender can ask to see a victim’s impact statement. This is because it is one of the matters considered by the judge and can affect the sentence they receive.

Do you have to provide a victim impact statement?

No. You can choose whether or not to make a victim impact statement. The benefits and challenges of making a victim impact statement will be different for each person. This will depend on the nature of the offence and how it affects you.

PART 2 – HOW TO PREPARE A VICTIM IMPACT STATEMENT

What form should a victim impact statement be in?

A victim impact statement does not have to be in the template and can be on any plain sheet of paper. It should be typed and include the following details:

  • the offender’s name and court case number; and
  • your name and signature.

You may read your statement. You may also request the prosecutor to offer your statement to the judge at the time of sentencing on your behalf. Victim impact statements do not have to be in writing. You may orally make a statement to the court if you wish.

Victim impact statements should be written as clearly and concisely as possible. This helps ensure there is time for the judge to thoroughly consider your victim impact statement, especially if more than one victim provides one.

If you choose to read your victim impact statement to the court, the judge may give you a time limit. If a victim does not speak English as their first language, the Victim Advocate can arrange for an interpreter to assist. Please contact the City Attorney, Victim Advocate at 503-526-2215.

What happens to the victim impact statement?

The prosecutor must submit your victim impact statement to the court at sentencing, if one has been prepared. The document is a public record and will be disclosed to the defense attorney and the defendant.

What information should be included in a victim impact statement?

It is important that the content of a victim impact statement is appropriate and includes information that will assist the court at sentencing. A victim impact statement should include relevant information on:

  • any physical injury or emotional harm you have suffered as a result of the offence
  • any loss of, or damage to, property as a result of the offence
  • the impact of the injuries or illness on your lifestyle, e.g. sport or hobbies.
  • emotional effects: changes in your attitudes or feelings (eg how you feel about yourself and others, whether your outlook on life has changed as a result of the offence)
  • changes in your behavior (eg, change of lifestyle, ways of coping, sleep patterns, eating and drinking habits, sexual behavior)

A victim impact statement may include information contained in the ‘summary of facts’ of the case. However, this should be kept brief because the court already knows what has happened. The victim impact statement should focus on the harm you have suffered.

PART 3- WHAT INFORMATION SHOULD NOT BE INCLUDED IN A VICTIM IMPACT STATEMENT

A victim impact statement must not include information that is inconsistent with the purpose of a victim impact statement. For example, a victim impact statement must not include content that:

  • makes threats against the offender or their family – threatening to harm a person is a crime and will be dealt with accordingly.
  • is abusive – comments should focus on how the offender’s actions in committing the offence affected you, rather than your views on the offender themselves.
  • is irrelevant – it is not necessary or appropriate for a victim impact statement to contain information about things that are not relevant to the offence.
  • is confidential – it is important not to divulge confidential information relating to a victim, offender or any other person.
  • refers to other offences you think the offender committed – the judge is sentencing the offender for the crime for which they have been convicted. Alleged offending cannot be considered.

This list simply gives examples of content that would fall outside the purpose of a victim impact statement (PDF).

Written forms should be submitted to:

  • City Attorney’s Office,
    Attn: Victim’s Assistance
    PO Box 4755
    Beaverton, Oregon 97076

Be sure to include the case number and defendant’s name on the form.