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Victim impact statements in homicide cases: should 'recognising the harm done... to the community' signify a new direction?

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-07, 19:20 authored by Mark WaltersMark Walters
Victim impact statements have played an active role in voicing the harm caused to victims in a variety of criminal cases for the past 8 years in New South Wales. However their role in determining sentence in homicide cases has been limited by Parliament and strictly prohibited by the Criminal Court of Appeal since the year they were introduced. In light of a political climate which is demanding that communities play a larger role in the criminal justice system amendments have been made to the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW). One such amendment has been the creation of a new purpose of sentencing. The Act now states under section 3A(g) that the court must 'recognise the harm done to the victim and to the community'. This has led to suggestion in some recent cases in the Criminal Court of Appeal that it may be time to re-evaluate the leading decision in Previtera which prohibits the court from using victim impact statements made by family members when determining the relevant sentence in homicide cases. This article will evaluate the current position of victim impact statements in homicide cases and examine whether 'recognising community harm' should now involve family members of homicide victims. Further, this will involve a discussion on other implications that interpreting 'harm done to the community' may have on the criminal justice system. Could it lead to other community members making statements to aid the court in their determination of sentence and will this be appropriate?


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  • Published


International Journal of Punishment and Sentencing




Sandstone Academic Press





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  • Law Publications

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