Victim impact statements
What is a victim impact statement?
Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, s 321, Schedule 1 (cl 3A)
If you've been the victim of an offence, you have the right to tell the judge, through a victim impact statement, how the offence has affected you. The purpose of the statement is also to make sure that the defendant is aware of the effect of their offending from your point of view. The victim impact statement should say if you want the defendant to pay you compensation (“reparation”) for any damage or loss you were caused by what they did.
Your victim impact statement will be prepared in discussion with the prosecution (usually this is the police). The judge will consider the statement when deciding what sentence to give the defendant.
How is a victim impact statement presented to the judge?
Your victim impact statement is usually presented to the judge in writing. However, you can ask the judge to allow some or all of it to be read aloud in court, either by the prosecutor or by you or someone else on your behalf. The judge usually must allow this if the case involves a sexual or violent offence, and in other cases the judge has a discretion to allow it. The prosecutor can also ask the judge to allow some or all of the victim impact statement to be presented in some other way, such as an audio recording of you speaking.
Note: A code for victims was developed by the Ministry of Justice, as required by new provisions added to the Victims' Rights Act 2002 in June 2014. The purpose of the code is to provide better information to victims about their rights, the services available to them, and the various duties that government agencies have when dealing with victims. (The code is available at www.victimsinfo.govt.nz/assets/Publications/VictimsCode.pdf).