Right to Speak at Sentencing for California Criminal Defendants Struck Down

By: Wallin & Klarich

As amazing as it may sound the California Supreme Court ruled on July 24, 2008 that a defendant has no constitutional right to address the court at his sentencing hearing to ask for leniency. The highest court in California ruled the only thing the defendant can state at his California criminal defense sentencing hearing is whether or not the defendant feels his sentence is “illegal”.
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The courts decision runs contrary to a 2004 court of appeal decision that had ruled that the defendant has a legal right to make a statement from counsel table as to his feelings about why his sentence should be mitigated.

The Supreme Court stated that if the defendant wishes to make any other statement at his sentencing he must be sworn as a witness and agree to be subject to cross examination. Of course in many cases the defendant does not wish to testify “under oath” and then provide the prosecuting attorney to engage in extensive cross examination where he would be free to revisit the circumstances of the crime in which the defendant was found guilty.

It is critical that if you or your loved one are facing a criminal charge, hire an experienced California criminal defense lawyer which is aware of the most recent court decisions. Feel free to call Wallin and Klarich to discuss this or any other legal question at 888-749-0034 and visit us at www.
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