Utah’s highest court ruled that crime victims cannot appeal a plea bargain reached in a criminal case, upholding the constitutional rights of defendants throughout the state.
According to an article by the Salt Lake Tribune, the state Supreme Court Peggy Hay and Patricia Hay, whose husbands were killed in a car accident. The defendant, Brandon R. Lane, reached a plea agreement in the case and was sentenced to 40 hours of community service and a driving class.
Both charges of negligent homicide were kept off Lane’s criminal record.
The decision by the Supreme Court is a victory for criminal defense attorneys throughout the state, who can now pursue beneficial plea bargains without fear of retribution by victims.
The Hays were told that Lane’s sentencing would include $1,500 in restitution; however, the sentencing judge struck the provision from Lane’s sentence.
In its decision, the court said that because criminal cases are between the defendant and the state, the victim, as a third-party, is not eligible to spur any actions. Utah recently passed a Crime Victims Remedies Act, allowing victims to voice their concern and possibly receive reparations.