- 1 Where can victims acquire the victim impact statement form?
- 2 Who completes a victim impact statement?
- 3 May the victim receive assistance in preparing the statement?
- 4 Why should the victim complete a statement?
- 5 Is the victim required to complete a victim impact statement?
- 6 What should the victim impact statement say?
- 7 How long should the victim impact statement be?
- 8 When should the victim submit the statement?
- 9 What happens after the statement has been submitted?
- 10 Does the victim have to appear in court to read the statement?
- 11 Will the victim be questioned about the statement in court?
- 12 Is the victim impact statement confidential?
- 13 Will the statement be used after the offender has been sentenced?
- 14 Can a victim impact statement be updated or revised?
- 15 Terms
- 16 Contact Information
Where can victims acquire the victim impact statement form?
This varies by province and territory. In some provinces, the police will provide the victim with the impact statement form. In other provinces, victims will be referred to other service agencies that will provide them with the information. If someone does not provide you with information on where to acquire the form, ask the court-based victim/witness program, the Crown attorney, or a police officer responsible for your case.
Who completes a victim impact statement?
The victim impact statement is completed by any individual to whom harm has been done or who has suffered physical or emotional loss as a result of the crime. The statement may be completed by the victim or someone on their behalf. If you, as a victim, are unable to prepare the statement (or if the victim is a child), a relative or guardian may complete the statement on your behalf. If the victim is deceased, anyone close to the victim may complete the statement (this could be their son or daughter, brother or sister, spouse or parent). One person can act as a “spokesperson” for the rest of the family or all members of the family may be able to fill out a statement. All of this should be discussed with the Crown attorney beforehand.
May the victim receive assistance in preparing the statement?
The victim or their family may obtain assistance in preparing the statement from law enforcement, the Crown, court-based victim/witness programs, community-based agencies, and/or victim advocacy organizations. It is important to remember, however, that the statement should be in your own words. Standards and procedures for the completion of victim impact statements vary throughout the provinces and territories, so you should contact the court in your province or territory for specific details and information.
Why should the victim complete a statement?
A victim impact statement allows an opportunity for participation in the sentencing and post-sentencing stages of the criminal justice process. The statement provides the victim a voice through which they can express to the offender, the judge, and correctional and parole authorities how the crime has affected their life. The victim impact statement may affect the terms of an offender’s sentence, as well as decisions for conditional release. In some cases, the judge may also order payment for losses or expenses the victim outlines in their statement. This could mean the value of damaged property, health care costs, and income lost as a result of the crime.
Is the victim required to complete a victim impact statement?
Completing a victim impact statement is entirely voluntary. You, the victim, decide whether or not you wish to submit a victim impact statement and whether or not you wish to fill out all the sections on the statement form. While the court may request that you submit a statement, the decision to complete the statement remains with you.
What should the victim impact statement say?
The victim impact statement provides you the opportunity to tell the court and the offender how the crime has affected your life. The statement should describe the impact the crime had on you and your family and should not contain opinions on the offender, opinions on sentencing, or criticisms of the criminal justice system. The victim impact statement should describe how the crime has affected you emotionally, psychologically, physically, and financially.
You should consider the following questions when describing how the crime changed or affected your life:
- Do I feel fearful, vulnerable, helpless, or angry?
- Have my attitudes and feelings towards myself changed?
- Have there been any changes in my behaviour, lifestyle, sleep patterns, or eating and drinking patterns?
- Have there been any changes in my relationships with my partner, spouse, friends, family or colleagues?
- Did I have to seek counselling or therapy?
- Did I sustain any physical injuries?
- Did I develop any physical illness?
- Did I incur any medical, therapy, or counselling expenses?
- Was any of my property damaged, lost, or destroyed?
- Were there any costs that were not covered by my insurance plan?
- Did I sustain any financial loss due to time missed from work?
- Did I miss out on any education or work opportunities?
How long should the victim impact statement be?
To ensure that it is read in its entirety, you should limit the length of the written statement. However, the statement should adequately address all issues regarding the impact of the crime. Standards and policies governing victim impact statements may vary and, for these reasons, you should obtain information regarding the particular guidelines for victim impact statements in your province or territory.
When should the victim submit the statement?
The procedure for submitting victim impact statements varies. In some areas of Canada, the police and victim service agencies are responsible for gathering victim impact information; in other areas, it is the responsibility of the Crown prosecutor. Since the statement is primarily considered during sentencing, the statement should be returned before such time. To be safe, however, you should complete and return the statement as soon as possible.
What happens after the statement has been submitted?
Once you have completed the victim impact statement and returned it to the police or Crown attorney responsible for the case, it is then directly submitted to the court and judge for consideration during the sentencing phase of the prosecution. A copy of the statement is provided to the Crown prosecutor, the defence counsel, and usually the offender.
Does the victim have to appear in court to read the statement?
Once the offender has been convicted, discretion lies with the judge as to who may read the victim impact statement. The judge may allow the Crown attorney to read the statement or the judge may decide to read the statement. As of 1999, the law affords the victim discretion to read their statements in open court. You may be called to testify by either the court or the defence attorney should any questions arise regarding the content of the statement.
Will the victim be questioned about the statement in court?
If you return your statement before the trial the defence may wish to cross-examine you on its contents during the trial, though this is uncommon. If you choose to return it after a guilty verdict, you may also be cross-examined by the defence lawyer about what you have said.
Is the victim impact statement confidential?
Copies of the victim impact statement are given to the court, the judge, the Crown prosecutor, and the offender or the offender’s attorney. The statement is also presented in a public court hearing during the sentencing phase of the prosecution and may also be seen by a probation officer or by the National Parole Board. Before a copy of the statement can be released to the media or the public, however, written consent must be obtained from the judge.
Will the statement be used after the offender has been sentenced?
The victim impact statement is forwarded to the appropriate correctional service administering the offender’s sentence. The National Parole Board considers information from victims as part of the process of assessing whether an offender’s release may pose a risk to society. To ensure that your victim impact statement has accompanied the offender’s file, contact the Correctional Service of Canada (for sentences of two-years or more) or the correctional service in your province (for sentences less than two-years). As of July 1, 2001, victims are now able to read their statements aloud or present an audio or videotape of their statement in National Parole Board hearings if they choose to do so. To present, the victim must submit a written request to the office of the National Parole Board in the area the hearing is taking place and fill out the required forms.
Can a victim impact statement be updated or revised?
If you wish to present additional information to the court after you have already completed the statement, you can contact the investigating officer or the Crown attorney responsible for your case – you may fill out another form which will be added to your original statement. Once the offender begins his or her sentence with the correctional service, you may change and/or add to impact statement at any time.
Appeals – the law provides the right for either the defence to appeal what they see as a wrongful conviction or for the Crown to appeal what they see as a wrongful acquittal (provided the appeals meet certain criteria).
Bail Hearings – a hearing where the judge decides whether the accused will be held in custody before the criminal trial or released into the general public after a specified payment is made to the court.
Conditional Release – the release of offenders (with conditions) prior to the conclusion of their jail sentence – includes temporary absences (escorted and unescorted), day parole, full parole, and statutory release.
Cross Examination – the opportunity for the defence attorney to question the witness for the opposing party.
Crown Attorney – the lawyer who prepares and conducts the prosecution of persons accused of offenses. The Crown attorney may represent the interests of the victim but is not the victim’s lawyer.
Defence Counsel – the lawyer representing the accused and his/her interests.
National Parole Board – a committee of people who decide whether an offender should be released from prison earlier than his or her full sentence.
Plea Discussion – the process in which the prosecution and the defence discuss the case or “bargain” in an effort to resolve the case without a trial.
Victim Impact Statement – a written statement from the victim describing the harm done or loss suffered as a result of the commission of an offence. The statement may be included as evidence for use in determining the sentence imposed on the convicted offender.
Victim/Witness Program – services provided at the courthouse for victims who are witnesses in the trial – the services provided include: courtroom orientation, information about the case, and court accompaniment.
The following is a list of numbers for victim/witness services for each province and territory. While the listed services may not be located in your particular region, they will be able to direct you to services in your area.
Edmonton Police Service
Victim Services Unit, Headquarters
9620 103A Avenue
North: (780) 426-8160
Southeast: (780) 426-8260
Southwest: (780) 426-8360
West: (780) 426-8060
Downtown: (780) 421-2760
Administration: (780) 421-2217
Ministry of Attorney General
Victim Services Division
Community Justice Branch
302-815 Hornby Street
Victim/Witness Assistance Program
Public Safety Branch
Department of the Solicitor General
Victim Services Program
Community & Correctional Services
P.O. Box 6000
Fredericton, New Brunswick
Bathurst: (506) 547-2924
Burton: (506) 357-4035
Campbellton: (506) 789-2388
Edmunston: (506) 735-2543
Elsipogtog: (506) 523-4747
Fredericton: (506) 453-2768
Grand Falls: (506) 473-7706
Miramichi: (506) 627-4065
Moncton: (506) 856-2875
Richibucto: (506) 523-7150
Saint John: (506) 658-3742
Shediac: (506) 533-9100
St. Stephen: (506) 466-7414
Tracadie-Sheila: (506) 394-3690
Woodstock: (506) 325-4422
Department of Justice Victim Services
4th Floor, East Block
P.O. Box 8700
St. John’s, NL
Community Justice & Policing Division
GNWT Department of Justice
4903 – 49th Street
5th Floor, Court House
(867) 873-7002 (Administrator)
(867) 920-6911 (Victim Services Manager)
The Victims’ Services Division
Department of Justice Victim Services
P.O. Box 7
5151 Terminal Rd 8th Floor
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Department of Justice
P.O. Box 1000, Stn 500
Ministry of the Attorney General
Victim/Witness Assistance Program
9th Floor, 720 Bay Street
Prince Edward Island
Community Affairs and Attorney General Victim Services
1 Harbourside Access Road
P.O. Box 2000
Ministere de la Justice
1200, route de l’Eglise, 6e etage
610 – 1874 Scarth Street
Victim Services, J-7
Department of Justice
301 Jarvis St.
CORRECTIONAL SERVICES OF CANADA
340 Laurier Avenue West
P.O. Box 4500, 2nd Floor
32560 Simon Avenue
2313 Hanselman Place
1045 Main Street 2nd Floor
Moncton, New Brunswick
P.O. Box 1174
443 Union Street
3 Place Laval, Suite 200
Chomeday, Laval, Québec
NATIONAL PAROLE BOARD
410 Laurier Avenue West
1925 McCallum Road
101 – 22nd Street East
1045 Main Street, Unit 101
Moncton, New Brunswick
Québec Regional Office
200 Rene-Levesque Blvd. West
10th Floor, Suite 1001
Ontario/Nunavut Regional Office
516 O’Connor Drive