If you're a victim of a serious crime, you may be eligible to make a victim statement.
A victim statement is a written statement that gives you the chance to tell the court – in your own words – how a crime has affected you:
A victim statement is different from any statement you may have already given to the police or a precognition statement.
When it's read out
Your victim statement will normally be given to the court if the accused either pleads guilty or is found guilty of the relevant offence after a trial – but before the sentence is passed.
The judge or sheriff must consider all the circumstances of the case and your victim statement and decide what weight should be given to it.
How to make a victim statement
If you're eligible to make a victim statement, you'll get a letter from the Procurator Fiscal that includes:
- a victim statement form
- an information booklet on making a victim statement
- the date you need to return the form by
What to include
You can include information on how the crime has affected your everyday life, such as:
- you now feel fearful
- you've been left with physical injuries
- you feel depressed, disorientated, or lacking in confidence
- you've lost money or property as a direct result of the crime, or because you've been unable to work
- your social life and personal relationships have suffered
- long descriptions of the original crime – the court will hear about this during the trial
- previous incidents
- how the crime has affected other people, such as your children
- your views on the accused
- what sentence you think the accused should get
Will the accused see my statement?
The accused will be allowed to read your victim statement – normally this will only happen after they've pleaded or been found guilty.
The accused will be allowed to read all or parts of the victim statement at an earlier stage if it's been passed on to the defence to help ensure a fair trial.
Can I get help to write it?
Victim Support Scotland can give you information on:
- your decision to make a victim statement
- how the victim statement will be used
- how to complete and submit the victim statement form
You can also contact the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service if you need advice or want to send an update to your victim statement.
Do I need to make one?
It's up to you whether you make a victim statement.
If you don't make a victim statement, the case will still go to court and your decision won't affect whether the accused is found guilty or not guilty.