In Texas a Defendant has the right to make a statement before a sentence is imposed. This common law right of allocution is now found in the Code of Criminal Procedure Section 42.07, which instructs the Judge to ask the Defendant “whether he has anything to say why the sentence should not be imposed against him.” When this happens, most Defendants don’t say anything. Their arguments have been made already by defense counsel, evidence has been submitted through a PSI or other witnesses, or there is a plea bargain and the Defendant knows what sentence to expect.
However, sometimes a Defendant is being sentenced without an agreement and might want one last chance to speak before the Judge pronounces sentence. If the Judge forgets to ask a Defendant if he has anything to say, and pronounces a sentence anyway, the law in Texas requires that a Defendant object or forever waive his right to allocution. Now this is not an uncommon approach. Texas appellate courts have been tilting the scales in favor of the State for a while now. We convict scores of innocent people in Texas for a reason, it’s easy to do so here. One way in which appellate courts bend over backwards to uphold convictions is by saying the Defendant “waived error”, and actually wanted the thing they are now objecting to, to happen.
For example, if you are in front the Judge and she is about to sentence you, and she forgets to ask you if you have anything to say, your lawyer has to object, and point out that this Judge, who has your life in her hands, has made a mistake, and to please let the Defendant speak before you decide if he goest to prison or not. That’s a risky move to make. Judges are people, and they don’t like being corrected or objected to.