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Victim impact statements.

  • 02-07-2022 3:07pm
    Registered Users Posts: 2,340 ✭✭✭

    Are judges supposed to assign any weight to a victim impact statement when constructing a sentence ?

    If not, are they actually doing it anyway ???


  • Registered Users Posts: 237 ✭✭phildub

    Yes the effects of the crime on the victim would be considered an aggravating factor

  • Registered Users Posts: 480 ✭✭Fritzbox

    I suspect it may depend on the judge when he/she is carrying out sentencing. No doubt many judges will not be swayed on way or another when deciding on a sentence?

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,746 ✭✭✭standardg60

    Imo they should be assigned as much weight as a character reference for the defendant, ie. none

    What if there is no Vis, should that have a lesser influence?

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,332 ✭✭✭✭28064212

    Yes, they are, and a simple web search would have brought you to the DPP's page explaining them:

    The Statement helps the judge understand the impact the crime has had on you. The judge will then take that into account when deciding what sentence to give the offender.

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  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 47,436 CMod ✭✭✭✭magicbastarder

    i've no experience of crime worth noting to draw any informed opinion from (but sure when did that stop me); but i can see why, in an obvious sense, there's a logic to them; connecting the crime to its real world effects.

    but then there's the issue that the actual act committed and its effects can vary purely by chance; e.g. say i got drunk and angry in the city centre and punched two random people. one was a hale and hearty 40 year old who picked himself up, cursed at me, and left to avoid further hassle. the second was someone with a significant illness, or just happened to fall in such a way that their head cracked off a kerb which led to a fatality. it's easy to argue in a cold logical sense that the two crimes committed are equivalent, even if the outcome is different, but i wouldn't like to try to argue in court that 'it was just one punch, your honour' when it had led to someone's death.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,746 ✭✭✭standardg60

    Which imo is a crazy situation, given that every other part of a trial is held to the rule of law.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,023 ✭✭✭Claw Hammer

    If you can't do the time, don't do the crime.

  • Registered Users Posts: 39,682 ✭✭✭✭ohnonotgmail

    You think a victim impact statement should be ignored by the judge when sentencing a criminal?

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,746 ✭✭✭standardg60

    I doubt any judge could ignore one, but because they're purely emotive statements i think they should be given after sentencing. Some people are better able to express their feelings than others, and some judges are going to be more easily swayed than others.

    The same crime should carry the same sentence regardless of the emotional impact it has on the victim, and also regardless of the circumstances of the perpetrator imo. The vast array of sentences imposed here for similar crimes are a constant source of controversy and annoyance for the general public, especially when mitigating factors are given too much leeway.

  • Registered Users Posts: 39,682 ✭✭✭✭ohnonotgmail

    The VIS is more than the emotional impact. it concerns all of the impact on the victim not just the emotional.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 6,023 ✭✭✭Claw Hammer

    What would the point be in hearing them after sentencing? The purpose of a victim impact statement is to help the judge set the headline tariff for the sentence. There is a maximum sentence for a crime but judges place the crime the person is convicted of it on a scal as to how bad an example of the crime it is. E.G is it the most awful version of the crime or at the lower end. Assault causing serious harm that puts some=one in a wheelchair is much worse than assault causing serious harm which leaves an already ugly person with another scar. After the headline tariff has been established eg for a sentence with a max possible of 10 years the judge might set a headline of 6 years, the judge then goes on to consider aggravating or mitigating factors. Stealing from a vulnerable person is worse than stealing from a big company. Betraying a position of trust is also an aggravating factor. An early guilty plea is a mitigating factor and so on.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,746 ✭✭✭standardg60

    As Magicb says above why should the same act attract different levels of punishment? Just because one victim ends up in a wheelchair while another walks away with a scar purely by chance is a fair and legitimate consideration in relation to sentencing?

    Stealing from someone who can't afford to lose it should be classed differently from someone who can?

    I'm lost to be honest if you believe that that should be the case in a normal society.

  • Registered Users Posts: 237 ✭✭phildub

    Well if you continue the example.ofnassault causing serious harm that carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Every person who commits this type of offence is not going to receive a life sentence, there are different levels depending on different factors.

    The judge will compare the offence to similar offences and the sentences they received, they will take into account all aggravating and mitigating factors and determine the appropriate sentence.

    When you use the wheelchair v scar scenario the wheelchair injuries is likely to incur a significant financial element as well as long term medical/physio treatment, psychological damage, this will be outlined in a victim impact statement and it would carry much more weight than someone who is left with a scar on their face who can continue about their normal daily functions.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,060 ✭✭✭MacDanger

    I agree on the wheelchair vs scar scenario but in the instance where I drink-drive and kill someone, I should get the same sentence whether that person was a mother of 3 whose husband gives a victim impact statement or a drug-dealing scumbag that nobody gives a sh*t about..

  • Registered Users Posts: 506 ✭✭✭asdfg87

    I personally think that these impact statements are a load of rubbish.

    I also think there should be a mandatory sentance for all crime against a person.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,023 ✭✭✭Claw Hammer

    People who have been killed don't give victim impact statements so you can kill all the drug-dealing mothers of 3 you like.