Victim influence, therapeutic jurisprudence and sentencing law in the New South Wales Court of Criminal Appeal

Author(s)Kirchengast, Tyrone
Title Victim influence, therapeutic jurisprudence and sentencing law in the New South Wales Court of Criminal Appeal
Source Flinders Journal of Law Reform, Vol. 10, No. 1, pp. 143-159, 2007
Date 2007
Document type Journal article
Coverage NSW, Australia
Summary This article considers the decision in R v Slack (2004) in regard to victim impact statements (VIS) in NSW. In this case it was held that substantial weight cannot be given to an account of harm in a VIS unless the account is established beyond reasonable doubt. One reason that this ruling is particularly restrictive is that it applies to all VIS whereas Previtera only applied to family victims. The consequences of the Slack decision are discussed in depth. The article also outlines the varying practices regarding the receipt and use of VIS in other jurisdictions in Australia. The author discusses the therapeutic benefits of VIS, resulting from giving victims an increased voice and presence in judicial proceedings. One proposal considered in the article is for NSW to follow the Victorian practice of VIS being sworn statements. It is recommended that the issue of victim participation in the criminal justice system, particularly in the form of VIS, needs to be revisited in order to resolve tensions between the law of evidence, and to show regard to victims as having an integral and valuable role.
Keywords Victim impact statements; sentencing; Victims Rights Act 1996; therapeutic outcomes.
Topic Victim impact statements