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Name: People v. Blount
Case #: D052147
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 07/14/2009

A trial court’s discretion to impose sentence at the initial sentencing hearing and on recall of sentence under Penal Code section 1170, subdivision (d) is defined by the terms of a negotiated plea agreement. Appellant and co-defendant were charged with numerous serious crimes as a result of the death of appellant’s two-year-old daughter. Autopsy results revealed that the child suffered severe physical beatings and burns. Rather than going to jury trial, appellant entered into a negotiated plea bargain whereby she was guaranteed a stipulated prison term of twelve years. The co-defendant went to trial and was acquitted of the more serious offenses, including murder, and sentenced to five years and eight months. At the initial sentencing, and the later Penal Code section 1170, subdivision (d) recall hearing, the trial court declined to sentence appellant to anything other than the stipulated twelve year term, stating that because of the plea bargain, it had no authority to do otherwise, although it did offer appellant the option of withdrawing her plea, which she declined. The appellate court agreed, noting that acceptance of a plea negotiation binds the court and the parties to the terms of the agreement. Although the court could have rejected the negotiated plea outright, it lacked jurisdiction to make the terms more favorable to appellant.