Section 960.001 of the Florida Statutes gives a victim, a minor victim's parent or guardian, or the next of kin in a homicide the right to submit a Victim Impact Statement (oral or written) to the Court prior to the sentencing of the defendant. This statement gives you the opportunity to describe how this crime has affected your life and what you would like to see happen to the defendant for committing this crime.
Only you know how to best describe the effects this crime has had on you and those close to you. We realize it may be difficult to put into words the impact this crime has had. Many victims find it helpful to organize their statement by the emotional, physical and financial effects. The following are some thoughts to get you started.
If you would like to tell the court about the emotional impact of this crime, you may want to consider:
• Has the crime affected your lifestyle or those close to you?
• Have your feelings about yourself or your life changed since the crime?
• Has your ability to relate to others changed?
If you or your family members were injured, you may wish to tell the court about the physical impact of this crime. You may wish to:
• Describe the physical injuries you or members of your family suffered.
• Describe how long these injuries lasted or how long they are expected to last.
• Describe any medical treatment you have received or expect to receive in the future.
If you suffered financial loss as result of the crime, you may want to:
• Discuss how this crime has affected your ability to earn a living.
• Describe examples of expenses you have paid or owe including medical bills or supplies; eyeglass or hearing aid replacement or repair; funeral expenses; lost, stolen or damaged property; the repair or replacement of door locks and security devices; counseling expenses; and lost wages from work.
For those who choose to exercise the right, it has often been helpful to write out the victim impact statement. You may then later decide whether to read it aloud in court, have someone read it aloud for you or submit it in writing only. Your victim advocate can give you the full name of the appropriate Judge, the defendant's name and the court case number to include in your statement.
Many victims and their families have found this to be an empowering experience in the Criminal Justice System. Please call the office in your county and ask to speak with a Victim Advocate if you would like assistance with your victim impact statement.