Sentencing law and the 'emotional catharsis' of victim's rights in NSW homicide cases

Author(s)Kirchengast, Tyrone
Title Sentencing law and the 'emotional catharsis' of victim's rights in NSW homicide cases
Source Sydney Law Review; 30 (4) December 2008: 615-637
Date 2008
Document type Journal article
Coverage NSW, Australia
Summary In the NSW the Court of Criminal Appeal, through a number of decisions, has declined to allow VIS to be taken into account in sentencing with the court suggesting that the value of victim participation is only in terms of the cathartic venting of emotions it provides to family victims. The author contends that the voice of the family victims can be included in the assessment of harm without jeopardising the court's objectivity towards the offender. The article discusses the position of the other states, in particular Victoria, and some international applications, including New Zealand, Canada and England. There is discussion as to whether the therapeutic benefits of a family member tendering a VIS are limited by the knowledge of the effect it will have in the sentencing process. The author concludes by suggesting it is time to review the position of family VIS in NSW and suggests that the court should be aware that victims and the community share similar values.
Keywords Victim impact statements; homicide victims; sentencing
Topic Victim impact statements