Victim Impact Statements

What is a Victim Impact Statement?

As a victim of crime, you have a right to submit a Victim Impact Statement to the court. It is your way to tell the court how the crime has affected you. The statement is your description of the emotional, physical and financial harm the crime has done to you. Your statement will not be used in deciding guilt or innocence. However, the judge may consider it when sentencing a guilty person.

Who can make a Victim Impact Statement?

Any victim of crime can prepare a statement. If the victim is deceased, or is incapable of providing a statement, a spouse, a relative or a guardian may do so. If the victim is a minor, the child’s parent or legal guardian may write a statement on their behalf. Business owners, whose businesses have been affected by crime, may also prepare a statement. Someone else may help you write your statement, as long as only your thoughts and feelings are written down.

When should I write my Victim Impact Statement?

You should write and forward your statement to the Crown attorney’s office after a charge is laid, but before sentencing.

What information should I include in my statement?

Victim Impact Statements speak only to the emotional, physical and financial impact the crime has had on you. It is possible that your statement may not be used by the court, if you include information that should not be in the statement.

When writing your statement, you should:

  • be truthful and accurate
  • give details of any physical and/or emotional injuries you have suffered because of the crime
  • outline any treatment or therapy you may have received or needed
  • give details of any financial loss you may have suffered, including:
    • the cost of insurance deductibles
    • time lost from work
    • medical expenses not covered by insurance

What happens to my Victim Impact Statement after I submit it?

Once your statement has been submitted, the content of your statement will be reviewed. Your statement will then be disclosed. Disclosure means that the Crown attorney must forward a copy of your Victim Impact Statement to the offender and/or the offender’s lawyer. Upon a finding of guilt, but before sentencing, the Crown attorney will file your statement with the court clerk. At this time, the offender’s lawyer may cross-examine you about comments you have made in your Victim Impact Statement.

Do I have to make a Victim Impact Statement?

No. It is your choice.

Will anyone else see my statement?

Yes. The Victim Impact Statement is not confidential. Once the statement is filed in open court, it becomes a public document and may be entered as an exhibit. Discussions of the content of your statement may be presented and recorded on the court record. Any request by the media, or a member of the general public, for an actual copy of your Victim Impact Statement will go before a judge who will decide if the request will be granted. The criminal justice staff in charge of processing your statement will also know its content.

Can I add to my Victim Impact Statement?

Yes. You can submit a second impact statement that will be attached to your original statement. The original statement cannot be taken back or changed once it has been filed with the court. You can keep notes about how the crime continues to affect you and include the information in your update.

Is there information that I should not put in my statement?

Yes. You should not include any:

  • statement about the conduct of the accused that is not relevant to the harm or loss suffered by you.
  • comment on the details of the offence or suggest a sentence that the judge should impose.
  • statements about offences for which the offender was not convicted or any unproven allegations.
  • criticism of the offender, the judge, the Crown attorney, the defence lawyer, or any individual who was involved in the investigation or prosecution of the offence.

Such comments may cause the court to refuse your statement. Your statement is only about the effect the crime has had on you.

How will my statement be presented to the court?

The Crown attorney will file your Victim Impact Statement with the court. The court clerk will distribute your statement to the judge after the accused has been found guilty, but before sentencing. You may be called upon to testify in court and be asked questions about your Victim Impact Statement. If you provide any conflicting or false information, this may have a negative impact on the outcome of the case.

Can I read my statement in court?

Yes. You can tell the Crown attorney if you want to present your statement aloud to the court. You may bring a photo of the victim to court. When you read your statement, you cannot change or add to it in any way. In some situations, such as when you are unable to attend court, the judge may let you read your statement in another way that the court considers appropriate, such as via video or audio recording.

Can a Victim Impact Statement be filed at other hearings?

Yes. Where an accused person is found not criminally responsible because of a mental disorder, a court or Review Board will deal with the accused. As a victim, you may file your statement with the court or Review Board.

The Parole Board of Canada can also consider a Victim Impact Statement at a parole hearing.

Where can I get a Victim Impact Statement form?

The forms are available below, or from Victim Services staff.

For more information, or help in preparing a Victim Impact Statement, You can contact Victim Services by phone at 204-945-6851 or toll-free at 1-866-4-VICTIM (1-866-484-2846)