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Victim Impact Statement And Its Scope In Criminal Trials In Canada

Victim Impact Statement And Its Scope In Criminal Trials In Canada

Being accused of a crime can be traumatic and highly upsetting. If you have been charged with a crime, the best way to protect yourself is to hire a criminal lawyer to represent you in your case as soon as possible. At Ayaz Mehdi Professional Corporation, criminal lawyers are available who can walk you through all the options accessible during a criminal trial.

This blog article will highlight the significance of Victim Impact Statements in a criminal, so you determine exactly what to include in your Victim Impact Statement.

In Canada and in most common-law countries, the Crown Prosecution plays a key role in criminal proceedings.  The Crown prosecutes or withdraws the case, and usually, the police decide to lay the charges, regardless of the opinion of the complainant and/or victim.

The discretion of “pressing charges” by the person (the victim) is nearly non-existent in Canada, and the police is authorized to lay criminal charges despite knowing that the victim does not wish to proceed with the matter.

Nonetheless, it does not imply that victims do not have any role in the criminal proceedings, in fact, the victims are the leading prosecution witness. Keeping in mind the significance of the victim’s role in a criminal trial, the Canadian Criminal Law framework provides an opportunity for the victims to participate in the criminal process through the mechanism of the “Victim Impact Statement”.

What Is A Victim Impact Statement?

The Victim Impact Statements informs the court how the commission of the offence has influenced the victim. The statements let you solidify the accusation by giving you a chance to describe the impact of the crime on you.

It is pertinent to note that Victim Impact Statements completely differ from the statements that one makes to the police during the investigation phases. The Victim Impact Statements are required to be aligned strictly with the degree of physical, emotional, or financial loss caused to the victim instead of portraying the events and facts of the crime committed.

The Victim Impact Statements are not only given by the primary victim but the secondary victims, for instance, individuals who are eyewitnesses to the crime, friends, or family members affected by the crime, etc. can submit a Victim Impact Statement as well.

Criminal Code Provisions

Section 722 of the Criminal Code specifies when a victim impact statement is permitted:

722 (1) When determining the sentence to be imposed on an offender or whether the offender should be discharged under section 730 in respect of any offence, the court shall take into account any statement prepared by a victim and filed with the court describing the physical or emotional harm, property damage, or economic loss suffered by the victim as a result of the commission of the offence and the impact of the offence on the victim.

Methods For The Presentation Of Victim Impact Statements

Moreover, there are few methods allowed by the Code that victims may select for the delivery of the statements:

  • The Victim Impact Statement can be read aloud,
  • The victim may choose to read the statement with the support of a person present,
  • The statement may be heard behind a screen,
  • The victims may present the statement while holding a photo of themselves before the crime,
  • The statement may be read by a third party if appropriate/approved by the judge or with the consent of the victim

Given the broader public concerns involved in a criminal case, such as safety concerns, fundamental rights of the accused, fairness for the proceedings, impacts on jury members, etc. , the judge is required to approve the method by which the statement is presented.

When Can Victim Impact Statements Be Used?

The Victim Impact Statements are required to be provided to the court before the passing of the sentence. Victim Impact statements are of paramount importance during the sentencing portion of a criminal proceeding (after a lost trial or a guilty plea). They are meant to impact the judge’s imposition of sentence and provide a background of the impacts of the crime committed while allowing the victim to participate in the process.

The Victim Impact Statements are so crucial that in R. v. Kennedy (1999), the Appellate Court overturned the sentence imposed by a trial court on the ground that the court neglected to take into account the entire impact of the sexual assault on the victim, who had provided a Victim Impact Statement.

Victim Impact Statements must be submitted to the court in the proper, prescribed form. Typically, the Crown Attorney’s or Victim’s Services office will reach out to victims and ask if they want to participate.

Reach Out To Us!

If you have been charged with a crime, many different factors can affect the trial outcome and/or sentencing. The best way to protect yourself is to hire a criminal defence lawyer to protect your interests.

Disclaimer: Kindly note that sending or receiving information through this site does not establish a solicitor-client relationship. Legal matters are fact-specific, and the law is variably changing. The views expressed and the content provided on this blog are general guidelines and cannot substitute for proper legal advice. Schedule your legal consultation by clicking here: Let’s meet!

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