Recent developments in victim agency in the new south wales justice system: The case of victim impact statements

Since 1996 various powers have been introduced into New South Wales law to allow for greater participation by victims of crime in the criminal justice system. The most significant of these developments concerns victim participation in sentencing, namely enabling victims to submit a victim impact statement upon sentencing. The development and reform of the sentencing phase of criminal trials in New South Wales in favour of increased victim participation has been controversial, with the New South Wales Court of Criminal Appeal reading down various provisions which seek to accord the victim of crime some agency in sentencing. This has tended toward a position that despite their tenure, victim impact evidence has little influence on the final sentence to be handed down. This article discusses the nature and consequences of these limitations, and possible avenues for reform.
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