In a criminal case, can a Judge change his sentence to give a lesser punishment for the crime committed on request of the lawyer of the client who had filed the case?

Example: The Judge has given a sentence of 5 years imprisonment in jail after the defendant is found guilty. Now the person who had filed the case feels that the punishment should be lessened, showing sympathy.

In this case, can the Judge can change their sentence and make the punishment lesser?

  • 4
    "Judge has given the verdict of 5 years jail imprisonment in the court." That's a sentence, not a verdict. The verdict is "guilty" or "not guilty" and in many legal systems would be determined by a jury, not a judge. But to get an answer to this question, you'll have to specify what legal system it's happening in, i.e. what jurisdiction (country, state, etc). Commented Nov 8, 2020 at 17:38
  • 1
    By the way, this doesn't seem to have anything to do with power-of-attorney (look it up) so I'm removing that tag. Commented Nov 8, 2020 at 17:38
  • The Code Civil and most certainly the Germanic systems usually do not have a jury, instead relying on the judge.
    – Trish
    Commented Nov 8, 2020 at 23:11

2 Answers 2


Can a judge change a sentence?


Once a judge has delivered the sentence the case is finished and the court no longer has jurisdiction.

Can the sentence be appealed?


Both the defence and the prosecution can appeal the sentence (with or without appealing the verdict). A sentence appeal will only be allowed if:

  • The sentencing judge has made an error of law; or
  • The sentencing judge was guided by irrelevant or extreme considerations; or
  • The sentence was manifestly excessive (or, if the Crown appeals, manifestly inadequate).

In theory, the Crown could appeal on the basis the sentence was manifestly excessive but normally the Crown will have indicated to the judge the punishment they were seeking and it would be rare for the judge to exceed that. That is, the Crown almost always wanted more than they got and may appeal if it’s “manifestly inadequate”.

  • this assumes that the sentence is final. There is a time between the verdict and the sentence, when there we know guilt or not, but not yet how high the sentence is.
    – Trish
    Commented Nov 8, 2020 at 23:07
  • Yes. But the gap you’re talking about is the one between the verdict and the sentence- the verdict is not the sentence
    – Dale M
    Commented Nov 8, 2020 at 23:30
  • In that timeframe - before the sentence is published - the sentence could be rewritten and changed however the judge wants within the law.
    – Trish
    Commented Nov 8, 2020 at 23:34
  • @Trish at that point there is no sentence- the judge is still deciding it.
    – Dale M
    Commented Nov 9, 2020 at 0:19

To complement Dale M's answer:

The underlying legal principle why the case is considered finished after delivering the verdict is called finality. It exists to protect certainty in case/precedent law, and also to protect parties from never-ending cases.

It is not always/everywhere true though that the courts no longer have jurisdiction after delivering verdicts. In New Zealand, courts are deemed to have "inherent powers" to review their own decisions — but only in exceptional circumstances where there was a procedural error.

If the prosecutor has simply changed their mind about what the punishment needs to be, that's no procedural error, so no chances.

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