Prejudicial error from defendant’s absence at sentencing.

It is not controversial that a defendant has a federal constitutional right to be present at a sentencing hearing.

The Second District just held in People v Cutting 2019 WL 6163797, though, the the more stringent Chapman standard of prejudice applies when a defendant is unjustifiably absent from sentencing. They went on to hold that the error was prejudicial because the defendant could have presented mitigating facts or expressed remorse. This is one of those situations where it seems impossible to show prejudice. Who knows what he would have said and how it could have changed the outcome? This case will be super helpful for any cases where judges rule on SB 1393 / SB 620 issues on demand without holding a hearing.

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