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Victim impact statements

What is a victim impact statement?

Victims’ Rights Act 2002 s 17AA

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 statement should be made to the charging officer as soon as possible after the incident.

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. You can choose whether or not to make a victim impact statement – it is not compulsory.

What information is in a victim impact statement?

The victim impact statement should include details of:

  • Physical injuries – the extent of your injuries, any illness you have developed as a result of those injuries, any medical treatment required, the impact of the injuries or illness on your lifestyle, for example work, sport or hobbies.
  • Emotional harm – effects on your feelings, behaviour and relationships, short or long-term mental health trauma such as PTSD, depression or anxiety, and any counselling you have received.
  • Financial effects – like medical expenses, time off work and the difference between your lost wages and any ACC you may have received, and loss or damage to property.

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 police prosecution (usually this is the police and should be signed off by you within 28 days of the sentencing date.)

Who gets to see the victim impact statement?

S 16 Victims Rights Act 2002

The victim impact statement is also given to the defence lawyer, although the defendant is not allowed to keep a copy. The judge can also order that the victim impact statement not be given or shown to the defence if that is necessary to protect the physical safety or security of the victim. Victim contact details will not be disclosed, except in very limited circumstances.

The judge will consider the statement when deciding what sentence to give the defendant.

How is a victim impact statement presented to the judge?

Victims’ Rights Act 2002, ss 21-22A; Victims’ Rights Act 2002, ss 51A-51E

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 – for example you can ask the victim adviser to stand with you in court or read it for you if you prefer.

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.

What happens to a victim impact statement after court?

If the judge mentions details of your victim impact statement at sentencing, then those comments can be reported by the media. Media cannot name sexual violence victims or child victims in their reports.

At the end of the court case, all copies of the victim impact statement must be returned to court staff and the victim impact statement becomes part of the court file. However victims, court staff, police, probation, prosecutor or other people allowed by the court may keep a copy. The defence can’t keep a copy unless you agree.

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/en/home/ways-to-get-support/#step-1

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The criminal courts

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Ministry of Justice


The Ministry of Justice website has a range of pamphlets and other information on topics covered in this chapter. You can access this information online, or you can order hardcopies of the pamphlets from:

Phone: 0800 587 847
Email: publications@justice.govt.nz


Ministry of Justice Collections Unit – www.justice.govt.nz/fines

Phone: 0800 4 FINES (0800 434 637)
From overseas: +64 4 915 8586
From Australia: 1800 144 239 (toll free)

You can check or pay your fines by phone or online. The website has information about both infringement fines and court-imposed fines, and about reparations. The website also has information about District Court Collections Units.

Department of Internal Affairs – www.passports.govt.nz/what-you-need-to-renew-or-apply-for-a-passport/before-you-travel/

This webpage has information about paying your fines to avoid being stopped at the border.

Phone: 0800 PAYORSTAY (0800 729 677)

“Giving evidence” (Law Society pamphlet)


This pamphlet is for people who have to give evidence in court as a witness.

You can order hardcopies from the New Zealand Law Society:

Phone: (04) 472 7837
Email: pamphlets@lawsociety.org.nz

Department of Corrections


This website has information:

for offenders

for family and friends of offenders

about the Department of Corrections’ role in the community, including community work, supervision, home detention, and the role of probation officers

about the New Zealand Parole Board.

Victim Notification Register


This page on the Department of Corrections website has information about the victim notification register including, the process, how to apply, information victims can receive and how to make a complaint.

Restorative Practices Aotearoa


This website provides information on when Restorative Justice may be appropriate, and where in New Zealand Restorative Justice is available. You can also make an enquiry about Restorative Justice by filling out a form on their website.

Phone: 0800 RJA INC (0800 752 462)

Victim Support


Victim Support provides 24-hour support services to help New Zealanders rebuild their lives following a trauma or crisis.

Phone: 0800 842 846
Email: nationaloffice@victimsupport.org.nz

Victims Information


This is the website of the government’s “Victims Centre”. The site provides links to a range of services available to help victims deal with the practical and emotional effects of the crime, at each stage of the criminal and youth justice process.

Phone: 0800 650 654

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