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Victim Impact Statements

What Is It?

Victim Impact Statements (VIS) are written or oral information from crime victims, in their own words, about how a crime has affected them.  Iowa will permit them at parole hearings and they can be submitted to the judge at sentencing.  It is your choice whether or not you make a VIS.  You may be asked by police, court or prosecutor if you would like to prepare one, or you can inform the court or prosecutor that you want to.

What’s the Purpose?

The purpose of VIS is to allow crime victims, during the decision making process on sentencing or parole, to describe to the court or parole board the impact of the crime.  You can share the physical, emotional and financial harm the crime had on you and your family.  A judge may use information from these statements to help determine an offender’s sentence.  A parole board may use such information to help decide whether to grant parole and what conditions to impose in releasing an offender.

Victim Impact Statements are often the victims’ only opportunity to participate in the criminal justice process or to confront the offenders who have harmed them.  The statement can be given by the crime  victim or a chosen representative.  When presenting the VIS, a crime victim or their representative cannot be questioned by the offender or the defense attorney.

What’s Included in a Victim Impact Statement?

As mentioned above, you can share the physical, emotional and financial harm the crime had on you and your family.  It may provide information about damage to you and your family that would otherwise have been unavailable to courts and parole boards.  Some of the things VIS may include are:

  • Physical damage caused by the crime
  • Emotional damage caused by the crime
  • Financial costs to you as a result of the crime
  • Medical or psychological treatments required by you or your family
  • The need for restitution

Why Make A Victim Impact Statement?

Many victims report that making such statements improves their satisfaction with the criminal justice process and helps in the healing process.  Ultimately, the choice to present or have one presented is yours.