What is the next step once a judge has passed sentencing and you feel it was unfair?

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What is the next step once a judge has passed sentencing and you feel it was unfair?

There is a new judge in town. They were elected on the platform of being tough
on criminals. The person being found guilty has no criminal record. They tried
to get away from a pursuing police officer and chased down and apprehended.
There were no alcohol or drugs involved, but had a lot of work and family
stress.

The guilty received the maximum sentence and yet similar cases this year, by
the same judge, received much less sentences.

I was present for the arraignment and the judge went above and beyond what the
prosecution was asking for two and a half times. It was as though the judge
was determined, in both their words and actions, to make an example of this
person.

What is the next step? Should they just not fight anything and go to prison for
all those years?

They have legal counsel but I am a friend of the family and just trying to help
find answers.

Thank you for your time.

Asked on July 13, 2017 under Criminal Law, Washington

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

The only way to fight is to file an appeal, and that is certanly their legal right. But they need to go into doing so with realistic expecations: the appeal will probably not work unless:
1) The judge went beyond not just the prosecutor's recommendations (which are *only* recommendations legally; they are not binding) but also beyond the sentencing guidelines (e.g. beyond what the law itself says is an appropriate sentence);
2) The judge was showing racial, national origin, or religious bias in his sentencing;
3) The judge had a personal bias against the person from some other link or connection to them (e.g. the person had dated the judge's sister or cousin; the person had publically spoken out against this judge previously in the media; the person owed the judge a monetary debt or vice versa; etc.)
Otherwise, without an improper motive, if the sentence was within guidelines, the judge could impose it. The law does not require that all criminals get the same sentence for similar crimes; there is a wide latitude afforded judicial discretion.
If the person wants to appeal, he would be well advised to hire an attorney; appeals are difficult and highly technical.


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