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Ask Hammer O'Justice Your Own Question

Hammer O'Justice
Hammer O'Justice, Criminal Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 4021
Experience:  9 years legal experience, primarily in criminal justice
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My sons murderer plead to a plea bargain which eventua

Customer Question

My son's murderer plead to a plea bargain which eventually went to a three panel judge and they reduced the agreed upon sentence as part of the plea bargain. 1) Can my husband and I request an appeal and 2) How can we change the change of plea laws to where the defendant has no right to a three judge panel?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Hammer O'Justice replied 5 years ago.
<p>Hello. First, let me say I am sorry for your loss. With respect to the three-judge panel, the right to a three-judge panel review is guaranteed by statute. You would have to lobby the state legislature to repeal the law that allows the panel review. The problem is that the three-judge panel review is a pretty solidly entrenched procedure. Many states have this, so it's not likely to be something that goes away. It's to ensure that there's a process for review if one judge is out of line in his sentencing. For example, in my state there was an individual who was sentenced to 20 years in jail for writing a bad check for $1000 who had no criminal record. The three-judge panel felt this sentence was really out of line for a first-time non-violent offender and reduced the sentence. So that procedure is in place for instances like that. And unfortunately, it also means that people whose sentences were not out of line may get the benefit of review. So you can certainly express your concerns to your representatives in the state legislature, but it is not likely that you can get that right to review overturned. </p><p> </p><p>As far as appealing the sentence, the Court of Appeals for Alaska has found that a victim has no right to appeal a sentence except for the very limited right given in the statute (Cooper v. Dist Ct, 133 P.3d 692). The statute states, "The victim of the crime for which a defendant has been convicted and sentenced may file a petition for review in an appellate court of a sentence that is below the sentencing range for the crime." (Alaska Stat. § 12.55.120). So the only way you can appeal the sentence is if it was below the sentencing range. You can find out from the prosectuor who handled the case whether it was below range or not.</p><p> </p><p>Sorry I couldn't give you better news, but I hope this helps explain it a bit.</p>

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