JustResearch No. 14

Research in Profile

Investigating the Victim Impact Statement in the Cases of sexual Assault in Nova Scotia: Notes on Methods and some Preliminary Observations

Karen-Lee Miller, PhD Candidate,
Department of Public Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto[1]

Introduction

This article describes the methods and preliminary observations of a qualitative study on the use of the victim impact statement (VIS) in the case of female sexual assault in Nova Scotia. Ten victims of sexual assault and 11 Victim Services officers (VSOs) were interviewed about their experiences with VIS submission or assistance while involved with the Victim Impact Statement Program of the Victim Services division of the Nova Scotia Department of Justice.

The study had two primary objectives: 1) to investigate the experiences of sexually assaulted women who complete a VIS in Nova Scotia, as well as the experiences and practices of the Victim Services officers who assist them; and 2) to use those findings to identify best practices in relation to policies and practices associated with VIS-related services in Nova Scotia.

It is intended that the final study results will contribute to efforts to improve the experiences of sexually assaulted women in the criminal justice system. It is also hoped that results will identify practices that will increase future victims' access to, and involvement and satisfaction with, victim services that support the use of the VIS.

Data collection was completed in January 2007, and analyses are in very early stages. This article focuses on the study's approach to informed consent, privacy, and recruitment due to their significance when undertaking research with victims of crime. Preliminary victim observations are presented for descriptive purposes only.

The Victim Impact Statement (VIS)

In 1988, the Criminal Code of Canada was amended to permit victims of crime to submit a VIS at the point of sentencing. The VIS is a voluntarily undertaken account that details the impact of a crime on a victim's physical, social, psychological, and financial functioning. It may be presented to the court either orally or in writing. Victims may be cross-examined by the defence on the content of their impact statements.

In 1999, the provisions governing victim impact statements were amended to further promote their use at sentencing. This was done by expanding the definition of "victim" to include spouses or relatives, to codify a victim's right to submit a VIS orally at a sentencing hearing, and to require that a judge inquire as to whether a victim has been informed of his or her opportunity to complete a VIS. Judges are also permitted, but not required, to adjourn a sentencing hearing to allow the victim time to prepare a VIS. The amendments also clarified that copies of the VIS need only be provided to an offender following a determination of guilt.[2]

Since then, additional amendments have included the further broadening of the definition of "victim" and the consideration of the VIS in Review Board Hearings and other proceedings (s.745 Criminal Code) (Department of Justice Canada 2006; Littlefield 2004).

While the statutory provisions governing the VIS are set out in s.722 of the Criminal Code, there is no federally mandated uniform standard that governs its implementation. As specifically envisioned in s.722(2)(a), each province has its own procedures that govern the implementation of the VIS in the sentencing process, including the requirements that victims must satisfy in order to complete and submit a VIS (Manson 2001). These variations have resulted in the VIS forms being prepared and submitted at different points in the criminal justice process depending upon the province in which the crime is tried (Diguilio et al. 2002).

The variation in procedures across provinces has also given rise to issues of whether, and at what point in the criminal justice process, a VIS can or must be produced to an accused or an offender. Recently, the Court of the Queen's Bench Alberta denied an application for disclosure of a VIS at the preliminary hearing stage in which it was argued that the failure to receive the VIS prior to conviction violated the accused's Charter rights.[3] It was held in R. v. Schoendorfer [4] that disclosure of the VIS prior to conviction would violate the privacy rights of the complainant.

The Nova Scotia Victim Impact Statement Program

In Nova Scotia, the province in which this study took place, the Victim Impact Statement Program is one of four core programs operated by Victim Services. Victim Services was established by the Nova Scotia Department of Justice in 1989. Its purpose is to promote and address the rights of victims of crime; to provide information and services to victims; and to develop and implement policies and programs for victims (Nova Scotia Department of Justice 2006a). There are four regional offices that provide province-wide accessibility to programs and services for victims of crime: Dartmouth (which serves the Halifax Regional Municipality); Kentville (Annapolis, Digby, Hants, Kings, Lunenberg, Queens, Shelburne, and Yarmouth counties); New Glasgow (Pictou, Guysborough, Antigonish, Colchester, and Cumberland counties); and Sydney (Cape Breton, Richmond, Victoria, and Inverness counties).

In each of the four regional offices, Victim Services officers are available to distribute the VIS package to victims, provide assistance in understanding the VIS guidelines, notify the Crown Attorney whether the victim wishes to verbally present the VIS, and submit to the court on behalf of a victim a signed, sealed, completed VIS. Following VIS submission, the VSO may contact a victim again and advise that he or she may update the VIS should any of the following occur: a lengthy delay between the filing of the VIS and the sentencing; variance between the charges on which the accused was found guilty and those for which the VIS was written; or notification that the admissibility of the statement is being challenged in court. In the event that the accused is found not guilty of the offence, the sealed envelope is returned to the regional office, at which point the VSO documents the return, places the original in the client's file, and destroys the additional copies (Provincial Victim Services 2000).

The Significance and Implication of the VIS

Given that the criminal justice system is often perceived as an anti-therapeutic environment, particularly for sexual assault victims (Herman 2003), the VIS has been seen as an important vehicle for assisting these and other victims in achieving psychological catharsis (Erez 1994). It has been suggested, for instance, that the VIS enables victims of trauma to "speak freely" and to have their concerns aired in a public place (Herman 2003). It has been found that victims feel validated and listened to when comments from the VIS are referred to by judges and that this communicates to victims that the community recognizes, and validates, the harms sustained (Schuster and Propen 2006; Roberts and Edgar 2003; Erez and Rogers 1999; Meredith and Paquette 2001). Importantly, it has also been suggested that the cathartic influence of the VIS may not only be witnessed in its direct expression of harm from victim-to-court, but may also be relevant in victim-to-offender, and in offender-to-victim empathetic and reconciliatory dialogue and communication. Proponents of this view refer to this as the "expressive" purpose of the VIS (Roberts and Erez 2004; Morgan and Sanders 1999). A recent qualitative study (Du Mont et al., forthcoming) of 15 hospital-based sexual assault and domestic violence treatment center social workers found that the majority strongly believed in the VIS's communicative potential. Social workers explained that in the context of a sexual assault case, the VIS can foster responsibility on the part of the offender, public recognition of harm, as well as increase the empathy and sensitivity of judges.

However, Schuster and Propen (2006) suggest that the VIS constitutes "a most unusual and perplexing form of communication in the legal arena" since victims often believe that by describing in court the physical and psychological effects of the crime they will obtain not only therapeutic relief but may, to some degree, influence the duration and disposition of the sentence. This is referred to as belief in the VIS's ability to fulfill an "instrumental" or "impact" purpose ( Roberts and Erez 2004;Morgan and Sanders 1999). Erez, Roeger, and O'Connell (2000) found that almost three-quarters of serious crime victims surveyed stated that they expected the VIS to have an instrumental impact. Yet, with few exceptions, judges and advocates in the Shuster and Propen study (2006) noted that sentences are often negotiated with plea agreements, and the VIS is less important than other factors when deciding to depart from sentencing guidelines. Worldwide, most studies demonstrate that the severity of a sentence rendered is generally unaffected by the presence of a VIS (Sanders 1999).

Methods

The study was an interview-based investigation of the use of the victim impact statement (VIS) in the case of female sexual assault in Nova Scotia. Ten victims of sexual assault and 11 Victim Services Officers were interviewed about their experiences with the Victim Impact Statement Program of the Victim Services division of the Nova Scotia Department of Justice.

Policing and Victim Services of the Nova Scotia Department of Justice were partners in the research and provided in-kind contributions related to staff release time. The study also received financial support from the Victims Fund of the Department of Justice Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Conducting research in the area of violence against women, particularly with women who have experienced sexual violence, is a sensitive undertaking fraught with ethical, legal, and methodological challenges (King 2004). The sharing of the details of this study's design and recruitment practices is intended to contribute to the growing literature on conducting research on female victims of crime (Parnis et al. 2005; McDonald 2003; Campbell 2002).

Ethical and Legal Considerations

The study was carefully designed to reflect the highest standards of ethical research practice with vulnerable populations in terms of the balance of risks versus benefits of participation, and the prevention of harm to participants (Ellsberg and Heise 2004;King 2004;World Health Organization 2003). It was also designed to maximize the safeguarding of participants' private information by ensuring compliance with common law tests governing the protection of confidential information generally (i.e., "Wigmore Criteria") (Palys and Lowman 2000; Sopinka et al. 1992) and the statutory provisions governing disclosure of records in sexual assault cases specifically (ss.278.1­278.91 Criminal Code; see also M. (A.) v. Ryan [5]and R. v Mills [6]).

The risks of a court order for disclosure as a result of participation in academic research are extremely slim (Palys and Lowman 2000). Nonetheless, precautions to minimize these remote risks were established at the outset of the study by: 1) maximizing confidentiality through seeking verbal (not written) consent; and 2) satisfying the legal test for privilege against disclosure. The latter was accomplished by avoiding the standard notification of the potential for disclosure of data upon demand by legal authorities, and by the researcher's solemn assurance to participants that their information would be kept in the strictest of confidence under all circumstances.

In August 2006, the study was subject to a privacy impact assessment (PIA) by the Nova Scotia Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIPOP) Review Office. The Nova Scotia Department of Justice Privacy Policy requires that a PIA be conducted whenever, as in this study, there is a change in the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information (Nova Scotia Department of Justice 2006b). In October 2006, the PIA was approved by the FOIPOP office and by the Deputy Minister of Justice for Nova Scotia, and the study was permitted to proceed.

Recruitment

Recruitment of victims and Victim Services officers for this study proceeded independently.

Due to privacy and sensitivity concerns related to conducting research with vulnerable or victimized individuals, it was agreed that senior staff at the Provincial and Regional levels of the Policing and Victim Services of the Nova Scotia Department of Justice would act as study intermediaries. In this role, they would: identify potential victim participants; contact victims; provide preliminary information about the study; and obtain consent for the release to the researcher of the victim's contact information (e.g., name and telephone number).

Study recruitment for victims proceeded in four stages. The first stage occurred in early July 2006 as staff of the Head Office of Victim Services reviewed cases stored in a provincial database of Victim Services clients. The purpose was to identify cases with the following characteristics: client of Victim Services; adult female; conviction of sexual assault; and VIS submitted between 2002 and 2005. Staff then forwarded to each of the four regional offices the names of potential participants who had been on their individual regional caseloads. The second stage took place during July and August 2006. In dialogue with the VSOs who had been involved in the original files, each of the four regional managers reviewed the list of potential participants forwarded by Head Office. Managers and VSO jointly determined whether it was appropriate to reestablish contact with the victim in order to obtain consent for the release of information for the purpose of study participation. Their determinations were based on multiple factors: case-related (e.g., whether the case was still pending before the courts); staff-related (e.g., whether the VSO who provided the initial service was available for consultation with the Regional Manager); and client related (e.g., perceived level of trauma at the conclusion of VSO programs and services, and/or the risk of re-traumatization through study contact).

By August and September 2006, study recruitment for victims entered its third stage. At that time, potential victim participants were telephoned by the regional managers who read a standardized script prepared by the Head Office. The script ensured that managers provided accurate, consistent information about the study parameters and emphasized that study participation was strictly voluntary and would not influence the receipt of current and/or future services. At the conclusion of the script, managers asked victims whether they would agree to have their contact information released to the researcher. Reasons for refusal were not recorded. In the fourth stage, the PIA was approved and Victim Services was permitted to release to the researcher the names of potential participants. Upon receiving this list, the researcher telephoned victims in order to provide further information and to seek consent to participate.

Initially, 67 potential participants from across the four regional Victim Services offices were identified by Head Office (25 victims in Dartmouth, 20 in New Glasgow, 11 in Kentville, and 11 in Sydney). In Dartmouth, staff determined that it was inappropriate to re-establish contact in 21 of 25 forwarded cases. Of the remaining four potential participants, one could not be reached and three agreed to the release of information. Once contacted by the researcher, one declined and two agreed to participate. In declining to participate, the victim explained that she "wanted to put it all behind" her and that study participation would only bring up unpleasant memories. Of 20 names forwarded by Head Office to staff in New Glasgow, 11 were deemed inappropriate and nine were contacted. Of those contacted, seven declined and two agreed to the release of personal information and to participate. In Kentville, staff determined that contact could be appropriately re established with all 11 potential participants. Of these, nine declined the release of information and two agreed to speak with the researcher as well as to participate. In Sydney, each of the 11 potential participants was contacted by staff; seven declined permission to the release of information, four agreed to be contacted by the researcher, and all agreed to participate. Consequently, of 67 potential participants, 10 victims were interviewed from across the four Victim Services offices in the province of Nova Scotia.

Recruitment losses occurred primarily at stages two (regional decision-making) and three (first contact by managers). Of 67 eligible participants forwarded by Head Office, only 35 or 52% were considered by managers and VSOs as appropriate to contact regarding the study. Once contacted by staff, 23 or 68% declined to have their names released to the researcher. Thus, only 15% of the potential participants identified by Head Office participated in the study.

Recruitment of Victim Services officers for this study was based on the following eligibility criteria: (1) experience with providing VIS-related assistance to adult female clients who had been sexually assaulted or (2) extensive knowledge of, or involvement in, VIS-related policy work. In order to recruit VSOs as participants, Head Office and regional managers were asked to identify and approach eligible officers and to forward to the researcher the names of the officers who were eligible. All contacted officers agreed to participate. In total, 11 Victim Services officers were interviewed: 10 regional officers (two in Darmouth, two in Kentville, two in New Glasgow, four in Sydney) and one provincial officer (Head Office).

Interviews

Interviews commenced on October 12, 2006, and were completed by January 8, 2007.

For the interviews with victims, verbal consent to participate was obtained over the telephone when they were first contacted by the researcher, and it was re-established at the beginning of the interviews. The interviews, which were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim, were conducted in victims' homes in Nova Scotia (7) or in another province due to relocation (1), in the researcher's hotel room at the request of the victim (1), and over the telephone due to relocation to another province (1). Participants were permitted to choose their own pseudonyms to ensure study anonymity. Interviews lasted approximately one to 1.5 hours in duration. Conversations followed a loosely structured interview guide designed to prompt recollections about experiences throughout the VIS process, for example, personal motivation to undertake a VIS, the types of VIS-related support or information provided, the VIS writing and editing process, and submission and presentation to the court. Two interviews were halted when victims became obviously distressed or began to cry; after composing themselves, both indicated that they preferred to continue. During the interviews, seven victims provided copies of the written VIS, five provided clippings of local newspaper reports of the trial, and two shared personal scrapbooks. At the end of the qualitative component, a short demographic survey was administered. Within a few days of the completion of their interviews, three victim participants contacted the researcher to provide additional information. In keeping with accepted research practice, participants received $25 to offset study-related expenses such as childcare, transportation, or photocopy-related expenses.

Detailed analyses of victim interview transcripts are currently underway. Presented in this article are preliminary victim data only.

For the interviews with Victim Services officers, verbal consent to participate was also obtained over the telephone when they were first contacted by the researcher, and it was re-established at the beginning of the interviews. The interviews were conducted during working hours and were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim. Participants were permitted to choose their own pseudonyms to ensure study anonymity. Qualitative interviews lasted approximately 45 minutes in duration and were followed by a short (5-10 minute) demographic survey. Interviews were semi-structured and covered a range of topics including: VIS guidelines; VSO scope of practice; professional practices associated with supporting crime victims through the processes of writing, submitting, and presenting a VIS; and experiences of providing VIS-related services specifically to sexually assaulted women.

The interviews with Victim Services officers were being transcribed at the time of writing this article, and are therefore not included.

Victim and Case Descriptions

All victims were white, adult women who were born in Canada and spoke English as a first language. They ranged in age from 25­52 years, with a mean of 40 years. All but four had some post-secondary education; one each had attended grades 9 and 10, two had obtained a high school diploma, two had taken some college courses, three had graduated from college, and one had briefly attended university. Seven worked full-time, one worked only part-time due to health issues, and two were not working due to temporary unemployment or permanent disability.

All victims had been assaulted by lone male offenders. Eight of the 10 offenders were known to victims: one was a well-known acquaintance, three were current or previous partners, three were fathers or were acting in that role, and one was distantly related by marriage. Two offenders were strangers. Six of 10 women had been assaulted as adults, and four had been assaulted as minors. All of the assaults of adult victims took place in 2002 or more recently. The four historical sexual assaults had taken place during the 1970s. Of the assaults of adult victims, two had taken place out of doors, and four had been committed in the victims' homes. Children were present or nearby during the assaults in two cases. One assault was committed while the victim was unconscious after she had consumed a glass of wine that the offender had deliberately spiked with prescription opiates.

Victims assaulted as adults reported the assaults to the police on the same day that the assault occurred in three cases, within fourteen days in two cases, and within a month in one case. Three victims presented immediately or within the same day to health care practitioners. One victim with minor physical injuries presented to hospital in the presence of police and completed a sexual assault evidence kit (SAEK). One victim with moderate-tosevere physical injuries presented to hospital in the care of a neighbour. After disclosing the assault to the attending emergency room physician, she was denied a SAEK, told she was capable of returning to work the following day, and was requested to leave. The victim reported the assault to the police a few hours later, but was not encouraged to return to hospital to undertake a SAEK. One victim presented at her family doctor with visible genital injuries less than 24 hours after the assault and requested an HIV test. After disclosing the assault when asked to explain why she wanted an HIV test, the victim was denied the test and no physical or forensic examination was undertaken.

All offenders except one pled or were found guilty of the sexual assault of one or more victims. In one case, the charge of sexual assault was dropped as part of the offender's plea agreement to non-sexual assault. This case remained in the study since the details of the VIS were not altered in any way as a consequence of the plea. Of the nine offenders found guilty of sexual assault, three were given custody (four and a half years, five years, eight years), one was given custody and probation (16 months custody, three years probation), two were given a conditional sentence (two years less a day), two were given a conditional sentence followed by probation (nine months house arrest,12 months probation; 12 months house arrest, six months probation), and one was given probation (two years less a day). The offender who pled guilty to assault only was given an unspecified length of probation.

Victims' Perspectives on the VIS

All victims explained that they had been primarily motivated by belief in the expressive purpose of the VIS. Anne [7] explained:

I just wanted him and his family to understand what I went through. It's not something that happened one day and then goes away. I don't think they understood that, and I wanted to write it and kind of just let them know how I felt.

When asked whether they believed that their VISs had an instrumental effect, that is, had influenced the sentence that the offender had received, responses were almost evenly divided: five victims agreed, four disagreed and one was undecided. Sarah commented:

I think definitely reading (the VIS) and letting (the judge) know exactly how it felt, how it affected my marriage, how it affected my kids, I think definitely it made a big difference in sentence.

In contrast, Mary Jane answered:

(The sentence) was decided before… the lawyers get together the crown prosecutor and his lawyer, and they discuss it prior to going to court and actually come up with a sentence that they present to the judge on what they're looking for.

When asked who had first notified them of their right to complete a VIS, six of 10 victims replied with the names of staff in their regional Victim Services unit. Other initial sources of information included the police (3), Crown attorneys (2), a counselor (1), and a pamphlet published by Victim Services and displayed in the waiting room of a sexual assault centre (1). Some victims replied with more than one source. When asked to identify who had provided assistance in completing the VIS, responses included 'no one' (5), a VSO (3), a spouse or family member (3), and a counselor (1). One victim selected more than one source of support. Five victims received suggestions to change or edit their statements from VSOs (4) or counselors (1); all but one complied. The victim who declined to take the VSO's suggestion to edit her statement did so on the advice of the Crown Attorney.

Seven of 10 victims provided copies of their written VISs. A review of these revealed that psychological harm (e.g., depression, panic attacks, and feelings of helplessness) was listed by all victims. Six of the seven statements identified social harm (e.g., difficulties with sexual relationships and impact on marriages). Four described physical impacts ranging from permanent damage due to forced intercourse to slight bruising that faded quickly after the assault. Five statements listed financial impact ranging from missed days of work to complete loss of employment, as well as costs incurred by the replacement of items broken by the offender during the course of the assault or travel costs to medical appointments. Four VISs mentioned the use of prescription medications such as tranquilizers or sleep aids and three of the victims cited what they perceived as the problematic use of alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism.

Only one of ten victims had the content of the VIS disputed by the defense. The victim was subsequently advised that she would be permitted to either submit in written form only the disputed VIS as the judge would "mentally delete" the inadmissible passages, or submit a revised written statement that she also would be allowed to deliver orally. On the advice of the Crown Attorney, the victim opted to submit the disputed statement.

Five of 10 victims reported they had read aloud their VIS in court. One victim reported that she did not know about her right to present orally and that she would have done so had she known. As noted in the above paragraph, one victim was denied allocution due to inadmissible content in her VIS.

Concluding Remarks

Researchers who work with crime victims, particularly victims who have been sexually assaulted, have unique legal and ethical considerations that they must address through method design. In this study, particular precautions were undertaken to ensure that the legal risks associated with disclosure and the third-party request of records could not occur as a consequence of participation in this research. Privacy concerns were addressed through the use of Victim Services as study intermediaries and through a review of study protocols by the Nova Scotia Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Review Office before proceeding with the study.

The recruitment of victim participants for this study presented unique challenges. First, the low number of sexual assault victims who proceed through the criminal justice system is a barrier to research in general, and this is particularly so in relation to the VIS (Du Mont et al., forthcoming). Next, strict ethical safeguards introduced during the recruitment process, including ensuring that Victim Services contacted only those victims whom they could reasonably predict would respond positively to the contact, drastically reduced an already small pool of potential respondents. Finally, victims' high rate of refusal to participate speaks to the apprehension that many victims may have about recounting their experiences. It is possible that both managers and victims overestimated the emotional risks, and underestimated the benefits, associated with participation in this type of study. It is important to keep in mind that while describing events within the research context may be distressing to some, it is different from (re)experiencing the original trauma. Few participants involved in trauma-related studies experience negative emotional consequences and most respond positively. Moreover, benefits to research participation may include feelings of empowerment, altruism, personal worth, and meaning-making (Newman et al. 2001; Walker et al. 1997; Du Mont and Stermac 1996).

The use of Victim Services to identify suitable victims, as well as a pool from which to draw eligible VSO participants, also presented its own difficulties. That is, while the involvement of managers and VSOs was crucial to study progress, recruitment and participation introduced competing demands when the staff was already feeling burdened by increasingly high client caseloads. Concerns regarding taxing already busy officers meant that some managers, understandably, did not agree to full VSO representation in the study. It is possible that interviewing VSOs outside of working hours might have alleviated some managers' concerns and facilitated the recruitment of all eligible VSOs. In other sexual assault studies, community partnerships have been identified both as a source of significant contribution and a source of some constraint to the research endeavor (Du Mont et al., forthcoming; Parnis et al. 2005; Du Mont et al. 2003).

It is important to document these issues in order to raise awareness amongst researchers, policy makers, and community partners of the challenges -and rewards- of conducting research on victims of crime. Articles such as this one provide a starting point for strategizing on how best to improve the appeal and experience of research participation for crime victims and front-line victim services workers.

Acknowledgments

The author would like to express sincere appreciation to the women and to the Victim Services officers who were participants in the research, as well as to Judy Crump and Meridith Monk of Victim Services, Nova Scotia Department of Justice who were instrumental in facilitating the study. Special thanks are owed to Michael H. Morris, General Counsel, Department of Justice Canada, Ontario Regional Office.

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Victim Impact Statement

722. (1) For the purpose of determining the sentence to be imposed on an offender or whether the offender should be discharged pursuant to section 730 in respect of any offence, the court shall consider any statement that may have been prepared in accordance with subsection (2) of a victim of the offence describing the harm done to, or loss suffered by, the victim arising from the commission of the offence.

Procedure for Victim Impact Statement

(2) A statement referred to in subsection (1) must be(a) prepared in writing in the form and in accordance with the procedures established by a program designated for that purpose by the lieutenant governor in council of the province in which the court is exercising its jurisdiction; and (b) filed with the court.

Presentation of Statement

(2.1) The court shall, on the request of a victim, permit the victim to read a statement prepared and filed in accordance with subsection (2), or to present the statement in any other manner that the court considers appropriate.

Copy of Statement

722.1 The clerk of the court shall provide a copy of a statement referred to in subsection 722(1), as soon as practicable after a finding of guilt, to the offender or counsel for the offender, and to the prosecutor.

Inquiry by Court

722.2 (1) As soon as practicable after a finding of guilt and in any event before imposing sentence, the court shall inquire of the prosecutor or a victim of the offence, or any person representing a victim of the offence, whether the victim or victims have been advised of the opportunity to prepare a statement referred to in subsection 722(1).

Adjournment

(2) On application of the prosecutor or a victim or on its own motion, the court may adjourn the proceedings to permit the victim to prepare a statement referred to in subsection 722(1) or to present evidence in accordance with subsection 722(3), if the court is satisfied that the adjournment would not interfere with the proper administration of justice.


  • [1] Correspondence should be addressed to Karen-Lee Miller, Knowledge Translation Program, Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St.Michael's Hospital, 30 Bond Street, Toronto, Ontario M5B 1W8, or by email at karenlee.miller@utoronto.ca.
  • [2] Criminal Code, [R.S. 1985, c. C-46, sections 722, 722.1 and 722.2 (see end of article).
  • [3] Fedirko v. Alberta, 2004 ABQB 11, 350 A.R. 139.
  • [4] 2004 ABQB (September 30, 2004, Court File No. 021226360Q1).
  • [5] M. (A.) v. Ryan [1997] 1 S.C.R. 157.
  • [6] R. v. Mills [1999] 3 S.C.R. 668 at 723.
  • [7] The names used in this article are pseudonyms chosen by victims.
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