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Rare situations may allow a court resentencing

When people in California and elsewhere are charged with a crime and sentenced, they may believe that the verdict is over and they must serve their terms as the judge or jury decided. Most of the time, this is the case. However, there are some situations in a criminal case that may warrant a resentencing of the verdict. This is usually due to an error in the court process or misconduct involving a lawyer, the judge or the jury.

In a recent case that involved a drunk driving accident in Southern California, a mistake by the prosecutor led the Orange County District Attorney’s Office to request a resentencing. The driver had received a prison sentence of two years after reportedly leaving the scene of a pedestrian accident during which a college student from Sacramento was injured. The driver pled guilty to failing to stop at the scene of an accident and driving under the influence – both felony charges.

However, the prosecutor admitted he had mistakenly not told the student and her family about the sentencing date. Under California law, the family had the right to attend the hearing and speak with the court about the impact the accident had on their lives. They believe that the verdict may have been affected by the court not hearing their side of the story.

While this situation may lead to the driver receiving a longer sentence, the opposite may occur if a mistake in court negatively impacts a person defending his or her case. In cases involving legal misconduct or a court mistake, a person may have the right to ask for another chance.

Source: The Orange County Register, "OC District Attorney’s Office takes rare step to try and get angered mom of hit-and-run victim in front of judge," Sean Emery, Nov. 1, 2017

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