Presumption of Vindictive Sentencing Did Not Apply Here Where Defendant Rejected a Plea Offer with a Sentence of Ten Years Probation and, After Trial, Was Sentenced to 10 to 20 Years in Prison
The Court of Appeals, in a full-fledged opinion by Judge Lippman, over a dissent, determined defendant was not entitled to the presumption of vindictive sentencing. Defendant, in this rape case, was offered a plea to a D felony and 10 years probation. The defendant went to trial and was sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison. The court explained that the presumption of vindictive sentencing, which has been applied to sentencing upon retrial after a successful appeal, did not apply in this case:
“[C]riminal defendants should not be penalized for exercising their right to appeal” … . After a new trial, the sentencing court must give affirmative reasons “concerning identifiable conduct on the part of the defendant occurring after the time of the original sentencing proceeding” to justify a higher sentence … . * * *
By contrast, the same policy concerns are not implicated when a defendant rejects a plea offer, proceeds to trial for the first time, and is given a harsher sentence than the plea offer.
“Given that the quid pro quo of the bargaining process will almost necessarily involve offers to moderate sentences that ordinarily would be greater, it is also to be anticipated that sentences handed out after trial may be more severe than those proposed in connection with a plea” (People v Pena , 50 NY2d 400, 412 … ). In Pena , this Court concluded that the defendant was not punished by the imposition of the lawful, but greater, sentence received after rejecting a lenient plea offer and proceeding to trial.
Here, after hearing the court’s warning that he would not receive such leniency should he be found guilty, defendant rejected the plea offer and proceeded to trial. Supreme Court imposed a lawful sentence, based upon defendant’s remorseless statement at the sentencing hearing, the heinous nature of the crimes, and the victim’s sentencing statement. Furthermore, the plea offer would have required defendant to plead guilty to a class D felony, whereas defendant was convicted after trial of a class B violent felony offense for which the court could not have legally imposed the probationary sentence offered with respect to the plea. Defendant’s rejection of the plea offer also required the victim to testify about the sexual abuse at trial, a factor this Court has recognized as a legitimate basis for the imposition of a more severe sentence after trial than that which the defendant would have received upon a plea of guilty … . Had the presumption of vindictiveness applied to this case, these would constitute legitimate and reasoned bases for the more severe sentence imposed … . People v Martinez, 2015 NY Slip Op 08456, CtApp 11-19-15