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Victim Impact Statements
In Minnesota, every crime victim is entitled to inform the officials in the criminal justice system how this crime has impacted them as an injured person, or as the family of a homicide victim. This statement is your best opportunity to have the judge and the defendant, if this statement is read in open court, understand the pain, anguish, future disability and financial devastation this crash has caused.
Judges must remain bias-free until a verdict or a plea is reached. Therefore under no circumstances should a judge be written to, telephoned, or visited before or during the trial. Failure to obey this rule may be grounds for mistrial or dismissal of the case. However, after the case has been adjudicated and prior to sentencing, Victim Impact Statements and other letters from friends, community members, relatives, etc. may be forwarded to the judge through the prosecuting attorney or your advocate.
The Probation Office will be making a recommendation to the court regarding the sentence the defendant will receive once he or she has been found guilty or has plead guilty. Therefore, it is absolutely vital that this person knows the victim's feelings about the case and his or her wishes regarding sentencing. An official from the probation office should be contacting the victim for this information along with questions to determine the extent of the injury, and the financial costs from the crime. The probation agent should also be contacting the family of a homicide victim. If you are not contacted by a week before the sentencing, please call your advocate.
As a victim or the family of a loved one who was killed in a traffic crash, you have a right to make written statements and to give an oral statement at the time of sentencing. This may be your only opportunity to speak directly to both the judge and the defendant.
Elements of a good oral Victim Impact Statement:
|•||3 - 5 minute reading time.|
|•||Highlights of the victim's life, his or her dreams and accomplishments, and what the death has meant to surviving loved ones.|
|•||How your life has changed because of the injury and how it has affected your family|
|•||What you would like to have the judge sentence the defendant.|
|•||Speak from the heart. Only victim(s) can know the pain, the injury or loss of a loved one has caused.|
If you would like someone to talk to about writing a victims impact statement or preparing to write a statement please fell free to contact Minnesotans for Safe Driving and we will be happy to help.