How is tHe Victim impact statement Used in tHe criminal JUstice process?
How is tHe Victim impact statement Used in tHe criminal JUstice process?
In December 1997 the Texas Crime Victim
within 10 days of filed information (misdemeanor) or indictment (felony), Clearinghouse produced the booklet,
the prosecutor notifies victim(s) of his/her right to complete a Victim
IT’S YOUR TURN. In October 2009 it was
impact statement (Vis) and provides Victim assistance coordinator
(Vac) contact information. condensed to a brochure and renamed,
“It’s Your Voice.” The brochure may be
Vac provides Vis to victim along with offer to assist with completing the
reproduced without written permission. It
also can be found on the Texas Department
of Criminal Justice website at: www.tdcj.
VO I C E
the defendant is acquitted/ Victim completes and
charges are dropped. returns Vis to Vac. Any changes should be brought to the
Vis routed to the attention of the Texas Crime Victim
appropriate community Clearinghouse.
after a finding/adjudication If community supervision
defendant is sentenced to
of guilt but before is revoked, VIS will follow
county jail. da or ca’s office
sentencing, the court TDCJ pathway indicated
considers the Vis. below.
court places Vis into the offender’s commitment
papers/pen packet that is sent to tdcJ-
correctional institutions division (prison).
Vis is forwarded to tdcJ-Victim services division
where the victim information is entered into the
Victim notification system, if requested on the Vis.
the victim will be notified of any change of status
of the offender. For more information about the Victim Im-
when the offender enters the parole review
pact Statement, contact the Victim Assistance
Coordinator in your prosecutor’s office or
the Texas Crime Victim Clearinghouse at
process, the Vis is included in the offender’s file
for the texas Board of pardons and paroles to
800-848-4284 or tdcj.clearinghouse@tdcj. TEXAS CRIME VICTIM
consider when making administrative release
decisions. Victim also can request that certain
special conditions be imposed if the offender is In regard to confidential information, please
granted parole or mandatory release.
see the Texas Government Code, Section
552.1325 and the Texas Code of Criminal
Procedure, Article 56.09. TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE
if released to parole or mandatory supervision, the VICTIM SERVICES DIVISION
parole officer can contact tdcJ-Victim services Revised 9/2009
division when supervising the releasee.
What is the Victim Impact Statement? Although the Victim Impact Statement is not fender convicted of any crime and to be notified, 1. The Presentence Investigation Report:
The Victim Impact Statement (VIS) is a de- considered by a jury, after the defendant has been if requested, of the offender’s release. To receive After the defendant’s guilt is determined,
tailed account of the emotional, physical, psycho- found guilty or accepts a plea agreement, the judge these notices from the Texas Department of Crimi- recommendations for sentencing are forwarded
logical, and financial impact the crime has had must consider your Victim Impact Statement before nal Justice you must complete the Victim Impact to the judge in a form called a presentence inves-
on the victim, family members, and other loved imposing a sentence. Your Victim Impact State- Statement form and return it to your Victim Assis- tigation report (PSI). These reports are prepared
ones. This is the victim’s opportunity to relate ment, excluding Section 2 of the Confidential Infor- tance Coordinator. by community supervision officers (formerly
the impact of the crime to key decision makers mation Sheet, becomes a formal part of the court If you want to receive these notices, simply re- known as probation officers).
throughout the court system. record and can be seen by the defendant and his/ turn the Confidential Information Sheet of the Vic- Sometimes in preparing a presentence inves-
her attorney. The defendant or his/her attorney tim Impact Statement. You do not have to return a tigation report, the community supervision offi-
Who can provide a Victim Impact Statement? may comment on the Victim Impact Statement and, completed Victim Impact Statement to receive the cer will use information from the Victim Impact
Texas law allows victims of sexual assault, with approval of the court, introduce evidence or notice; however, in not doing so, the Board of Par- Statement to begin filling in the report’s section
kidnapping, aggravated robbery, trafficking of testimony in regards to its accuracy. dons and Paroles will not be informed as to how on victim impact. Victims and survivors have the
persons, or injury to a child, elderly individual or If the defendant is sentenced to community su- the crime impacted you. To ensure notification af- right to provide additional impact information to
disabled individual, or victims who have suffered pervision (probation), the community supervision ter the defendant is sentenced to TDCJ, call the Vic- be included in this report. This can be done in
personal injury or death as a result of the crimi- officer will have access to your Victim Impact State- tim Services Division at 800-848-4284 to verify that writing or in an interview with the community
nal conduct of another to submit a Victim Impact ment to use for notification purposes. your contact information is correct. supervision officer. If you prefer to offer your
Statement. Close relatives of deceased victims If the defendant is incarcerated in a TDCJ facil- victim impact information this way or do this in
and guardians of victims also can exercise this ity, your Victim Impact Statement goes with his or How can your Victim Impact Statement help addition to a written Victim Impact Statement,
right. her court records to the Texas Department of Crimi- you? ask the Victim Assistance Coordinator to put you
After the defendant has been indicted, the nal Justice. When the defendant becomes eligible Those who have submitted a Victim Impact in touch with the community supervision officer
Victim Assistance Coordinator (VAC) in the pros- for parole consideration, your statement is one of Statement feel that completing it was beneficial to handling the case.
ecutor’s office has the responsibility to provide the items the Board of Pardons and Paroles will them. While they may never know the exact im-
a Victim Impact Statement form to victims and consider prior to voting whether or not to re- pact of their words, they found strength in know- 2. Your “Right to be Heard” ... an Oral State-
survivors. After you complete the Victim Impact lease the offender. ing that whatever the decision was, it was ment to the Court:
Statement, return it to the Victim Assistance Co- made by someone who was After the sentence has been pronounced,
ordinator. He or she will send it to criminal jus- An important note about informed about how the victims and survivors have the right to make an
tice professionals for consideration in making de- your Victim Impact State- crime affected its victims oral statement to the court. People who have
cisions about the defendant. Note: The Victim ment: and survivors. exercised this “right to be heard” have described
Impact Statement is not a legal document; it is You have the right to Victims and survivors who a sense of satisfaction at being able to tell the
not an affidavit and does not need to be nota- be informed of parole pro- have completed the Victim court, often in the presence of the defendant,
rized. cedures, to participate in Impact Statement felt it gave what the consequences of the criminal act have
the parole process, to be them a greater opportunity been.
Who will consider the Victim Impact State- notified, if requested, of to participate in the crimi- If this is a right you would like to exercise, tell
ment? parole proceedings con- nal justice process. the Victim Assistance Coordinator. He or she will
Many cases do not go to trial and are settled cerning the defendant notify the prosecutor handling the case.
through plea bargains. However, the prosecutor in your case, to provide Are there other ways By providing victim impact information, writ-
must consider your Victim Impact Statement be- to the Board of Pardons to provide victim im- ten and/or oral, you supply a perspective that no
fore entering into a plea agreement. He or she and Paroles for inclu- pact information? one else can. If the Victim Impact Statement is
also may use information from your VIS to deter- sion in the defendant’s file YES. You have the not part of the defendant’s file, decision-makers
mine how much restitution to request as part of information to be considered by the right to provide victim impact in the system will not have heard from the people
a sentence. Board prior to the parole of any of- information in two other ways: most affected by this crime, you and your family
and other loved ones.