When the judge announces a sentence for your alleged crime, you may think
that there is no hope, especially if the sentence is particularly harsh.
However, it is possible to modify a criminal sentence in California.
The following are the three ways to modify a sentence:
File a motion for resentencing (MFR) - This type of motion is filed by the prisoner and asks the judge to alter
or modify his/her sentence. The court will only make a change if there
was a clerical error (i.e. the clerk entered the incorrect sentence),
the sentence given to the prisoner was illegal, or the court made a judicial
error (i.e. the court failed to review specific sentencing evidence).
Once the original sentence is ordered, the MRF can be filed at any time
if there is evidence of good cause.
Appeal the sentence - The prisoner can ask the appellate court to modify a sentence determined
by the Superior Court. This does not mean the prisoner is given a new
trial or that the court will examine new evidence. The appellate court
will review the proceedings during the trial and figure out if any legal
errors significantly affected the prisoner’s rights. If the court
notices a legal error or prejudice against the prisoner, it will overturn
File a writ of habeas corpus petition (HCP) - This type of petition challenges the conditions of the sentence after
all possible appeals have been filed. HCP is typically used under rare
However, there are a couple of ways a court could modify a sentence without
any action from the prisoner. For example, the court can recall a sentence
within 120 after it was determined, based on the prisoner’s disciplinary
record, future risk, and other interests. Additionally, the court could
recall a sentence because of health reasons, especially if the prison
is terminally ill and not a threat to public safety.
For more information about criminal law in Santa Barbara,
contact our legal team at
Appel & Morse today.