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INTRODUCTION

Victim impact statements allow victims of crime to tell the court and the offenders how the crime affected their lives. The court is interested in knowing any significant physical psychological or economic injury that may have been caused by the crime. It also offers the victims the opportunity to express their concerns with the expectation that the information would be considdered by the court in determining the appropriate sentence.

DEFINITION OF A VICTIM IMPACT STATEMENT

The SA Law Commission defines the term as follows:
        "Victim Impact Statement means a written statement by the victim or someone authorised by the Act to make a statement on behalf of the victim which reflects the impact of the offence. including the physical, psychological, social and financial consequences of the offence for the victim.

OBJECTIVE OF A VICTIM IMPACT STATEMENT

The explicit origional objective of Victim Impact Statements is to allow the courts to take account of the subjective experience of the harm sufferred by individual victims. Victim impact testemony is designed to show each individual's uniqueness as a human being. The purpose of the victim impact statement is to place before the court information which is considered relevant in determining an appropriate sentence for the offender.

WHEN SHOULS VICTIM IMPACT STATEMENTS BE PREPARED

A victim impact statement is given to the court after the offender has been convicted but before the offender sentenced. The victim or representative of the victim must advise the State Prosecutor if he or she wants a victim impact statement to be presented in court. The VIS can then be prepared. Either the State Prosecutor or the victim can make the arrangements in this regard. For example the victim may wish to write his or her own statement or may prefer for the statement to be prepared by his/her councilor or criminologist. A copy of the statement must be made available to the State Prosecutor at least five days prior to the trial.

WHO CAN MAKE VICTIM IMPACT STATEMENTS

According to the Victims of Crimes Bureau of New South Wales the following people can make victim impact statements:

a. a primary or direct victim who is either:

     * a person against whom the offence was committed and has suffered personal harm as a direct result        of it, or

     * a whitness to the act of the actual or threatened violence, the death or the infliction of the physical bodily         arm concerned and has suffered personal harm as a direct result of the offence.

b. A family member who is either:

      * the victims spouse, or

      * the victims de facto same sex parner who has lived with the victim for at least two years; or a partent /         guardian or a step-parent of the victim; or a child / stepchild of the victim or some other child of whom         the victim is the guardian; or a brother / sister / stepbrother / stepsister of the victim.

c.c. A representative of the victim

     * where a victim is incapable of providing information for a VIS , a family member or other representative         who may act on behalf of the victim.

      *  A family member means a person who is an immediate family member of a primary or direct victimwho          has died as a result of the offence.

      * The victim impact statement may be written eith by the victim, a family member, a victims representative          or a qualified person, such as a counsellor, psychologist, criminologist, social worker or medical          specialist.

      *  A victim impact statement is voluntary. The victim does not have to make a statement if she doesn't want          to do so. Nobody can make a statement on behalf of the victim if the victim objects to the statement          being made.

REQUIREMENTS FOR THE VICTIM IMPACT STATEMENT

I      A victim impact statement should contain the following details:


             * Details of the full effects of the crime including financial, social, emotional, psychological and                 physical harm done or suffered by you or your family.

             * Where the crime has resulted in death, a description of the person who was killed -  who that
                person was to the person on who's behalf the report is being written, the life they led, the                   relationship, and howthe survivors life has now changed. You may also include a photograph of the                 deceased person and their date and place of birth.


             * If injuries were sustained, a description of those injuries and details of any physical effects                 the crime has had on the family.


             * Details changes in lifestyle. For instance, changes in social commitments, employment                accommodation or education.


             * Details of the financial or economic impact of the crime, for example, lost wages, medical or other                 treatment expenses and transport costs. In the case of property damage, the cost of                 repairs/replacement.

The offender must be confronted in court with the financial, emotional and pysical consequences of his or her actions.

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