The Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals (AFCCA) has issued an interesting en banc (5-3) opinion in United States v. Hamilton, 76 M.J. ___ (A. F. Ct. Crim. App. 2017), about victim impact evidence or statements.
The accused pleaded guilty to the possession and distribution of child pornography. On sentencing, as we often see in these cases, the prosecution introduced unsworn statements of the victims, all of which predated the accused’s date of offenses. For those who haven’t been exposed to these statements, generally, they review the abuse that occurred at the time the video or image was taken and the subsequent life and health effects on the victim. We know that courts allow such information because of the idea that a victim is re-victimized each time a person views or distributes the images–it’s essentially an ongoing crime. Slip op. at 7-8.
I think there are several takeaways for practitioners.