Sentencing is when the judge decides what punishment the offender shall be given. You don’t have to attend court for the sentencing hearing unless you want to.
The sentencing hearing is when your victim impact statement is presented to the court. Talk to the officer in charge if you need to make any changes to your victim impact statement.
When does sentencing happen?
After the offender has pleaded guilty or been found guilty they'll usually be remanded for a few weeks (on bail or in custody) so that the sentencing reports can be prepared.
How does the judge decide what sentence to give?
The judge is required by law to take many factors into account when sentencing the offender, such as:
- how serious the offence was
- the impact on you and other people affected by the crime
- the offender’s personal, family, whānau, community and cultural background
- what sentences have been given for other similar crimes
- reports about the offender (such as a pre-sentence report, reparation report and victim impact statements).
Can I have a say in the sentencing process?
Some victims and their families find it frustrating that the sentencing process is focused on the offender, their life and circumstances, rather than focusing on the victim and the impact the crime had on them.
Your victim impact statement is the way for you to be heard in the process and to tell the court how the crime has affected you. The judge is required to consider your victim impact statement when sentencing the offender.
If the judge agrees, you (or someone you choose) can read out all or part of your victim impact statement in court at the sentencing hearing. If you are a victim of a serious crime the judge will almost always allow your victim impact statement to be read out in court. Ask your court victim advisor or officer in charge to ask the judge for you.
Different types of sentences
Read about the different types of sentences the offender can get or watch a short video about the sentencing process.
Read about your right to make a victim impact statement
Right to make a victim impact statement
You have the right to make a victim impact statement that tells the court how the crime has affected you. You can get help to write your victim impact statement.
The judge will only consider your victim impact statement when they sentence the offender. The offender must have pleaded guilty or been found guilty. The judge will not look at your victim impact statement if the offender is found not-guilty.
If the judge says you can, you can read your victim impact statement to the court. You can also ask someone to read the statement for you.