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Legal-Kal, Criminal Defense Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 566
Experience:  Attorney at Law Offices of Khaled Issa
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Is a judge allowed to alter the restitution amount in a

Customer Question

Is a judge allowed to alter the restitution amount in a Douqette Alternative decision if the defendant files a motion with the clerk and goes before a magistrate judge claiming inability to meet sentencing dollar guidelines without the judge conferring with the victim or alerting the victim that a change is being considered by the court.In this instance,the decision was made without probations knowledge or the victims.
Submitted: 4 months ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Legal-Kal replied 4 months ago.

Good morning Stephen:

My name is ***** ***** I would be happy to provide general information regarding your question. As a reminder, all information provided here is for informational purposes only.

The short answer to your question is "yes."

The role of a judge, when it comes to sentencing an individual (including any sentences that involve restitution orders) is to apply the sentencing laws in just manner. The role of the judge is not to advocate for the interests of one party over the other (i.e, a judge cannot advocate on behalf of a victim or a defendant).

What this means is that the judge is not/nor cannot be in the position of conferring with victims or alerting them as to changes in the case or sentencing. Essentially, the judge is just the umpire who calls balls and strikes.

Rather, it is the specific District Attorney's Office that advocates on behalf of the victim and generally alerts victims to changes regarding the case. The District Attorney's Office is the representative of the people and, in criminal cases, representatives of the victims in the action. As such, they would be the ones responsible for informing victims to certain changes in a case, not the judge.

So, the answer to your question would be "no," a judge is not required by law to inform or alert victims of changes in the status or matters in a criminal case.

Questions based on this? If so, please ask and I'd be happy to answer further or clarify anything provided here.

If not, please remember that experts here are not employees of JustAnswer and assist individuals on a good-faith basis. Experts here are credited only when an individual clicks ACCEPT and rates the assistance provided (just the assistance and not the law as experts have no control over that) with three stars or higher. Your cooperation in this regard would be greatly appreciated!

***General information provided here is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as such. It is always wise to consult with an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction as they would be in the best position to assist***

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
The probation officer for the defendant was as surprised as I was.Neither was contacted by the DA'S office and the judge reduced the restitution by 50%.If there is no communication to victim or probation,my guess would be that I should have the right to make a motion to appeal the decision.
Expert:  Legal-Kal replied 4 months ago.

You would not have the right to appeal any decision as you were not/are not an actual party to the case (the case is "the people of the state of _____ v. Defendant _______"). Only the Defendant and the district attorney's office (as the representative of the people) have standing in the case and have standing to appeal.

A court can modify a sentencing matter (as it already has) but the issue has to be brought back to the court's call and judge's attention. The only way this can be done is by any of the parties (again, the DA's office or the defendant) requesting the matter or issue to be re-heard by the judge.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
What are my options if the DA'S office refuses to address the judge?During the entire 2 year case,I had to direct and basically jump start the DA constantly to get this to trial.The judge asked if we wanted a jury trial,as the defendant is a repeat offender,and has served prison time for the same offense in the recent past.His track record surrounding this type of offense is well known to this court and the leniency afforded the defendant is totally one sided.
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
The Douqette Alternative was a kind offering punishing me even longer as my restitution would have taken 60 months.Now it will take 98 months,totally unacceptable.
Expert:  Legal-Kal replied 4 months ago.

That is very unfortunate to hear. However, since a victim is technically not a party to a criminal action (as crazy as it may sound, it is the state of the law), there really aren't many options besides continuously nudging the DA's office into taking certain action. This may even include attempting to speak to a supervisor or other individual who has more authority in the office then the specific individual(s) you may have been speaking to in the past.

Also, many counties have victim "liaison" departments and individuals. These departments/individuals are usually there to help or assist a victim one way or the other. Possibly reaching out to these individuals/departments, if applicable, may jumpstart things.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Just as I had thought,the DA'S office just called me back and the victim advocate stated that if the judge choose to lower the restitution ,she didn't think that there is anything that they could do.I told them your answer and she is looking into it.I had the second in command to the county DA handling my case because of the inability of countless asst DA'S to do the proper job and complete their task before being transferred to another court.They all know who I am and my guess is they want to steer clear if any new ripple in what they thought was a closed case were to arise.
Expert:  Legal-Kal replied 4 months ago.

Please remember that information provided here is not legal advice nor should it be relied upon as such.

I will opt-out of this question, thereby opening it up to a new expert. The new expert will have access to everything provided here so they can review everything without the need for re-typing it. Perhaps the new expert may have some new ideas regarding your issue.

Thank you and good luck.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Thank you
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
I'm still waiting for the new legal expert to contact me.