Case Caption: Crystal Irons v. People of the Virgin IslandsCase Number: S. Ct. Crim. No. 2010-0042Date: 09/21/2012Author: Cabret, Maria M. Citation: Summary:

The Superior Court did not err in correcting and reducing a sentence it had previously imposed without requiring the defendant's presence in court at the time the sentence was corrected. After the defendant entered a plea agreement and pled guilty to second degree murder, at sentencing the trial court erroneously sentenced her for the additional crime of using a dangerous weapon during the commission of a crime of violence, a weapons count that was not included in the plea. The court shortly thereafter corrected this mistake, deleting the punishment for the weapons offense, but defendant had been transported by corrections officers by that time, and was not present in court at that time. Neither the rules of the Superior Court nor the United States Constitution, require a defendant's presence when a sentence is reduced. This was not a "critical stage" of sentencing, as the sentence had already been imposed, and the defendant's absence from the subsequent hearing did not affect the fairness of the procedure and was not unconstitutional. Sentencing this defendant to 25 years' imprisonment for second degree murder was also not an abuse of discretion. Reading the sentencing transcript as a whole, it is clear that the Superior Court did not apply a uniform policy in sentencing this defendant but considered a number of factors, some in her favor and some against and, in the end, sentenced her to less than the People's recommendation and to considerably less than the maximum penalty she could have received under Virgin Islands law. The judgment of the Superior Court is affirmed.

Attachment: Open Document or Opinion