Myers v. Frazier
In Myers v. Frazier, 173 W.Va. 658, 319 S.E.2d 782 (1984), the Court explained that "a victim or the immediate family of a victim or a person having particular knowledge relevant to the case" may petition a court "to consider facts that may have a bearing on the court's decision to accept or reject a plea bargain or to set a particular sentence." Id. at 676 n. 32, 319 S.E.2d at 801 n. 32.
The Court held that "this right is basically provided in felony cases under W.Va. Code, 61-11A-2 (1984). . . ." Id.
West Virginia Code 61-11A-2 (1984) (Repl. Vol. 2000) provides that a court "shall permit" the victim to make an oral statement for the record prior to the imposition of sentence. W. Va. Code 61-11A-2(b).
The term "victim" is defined by that statute as "a person who is a victim of a felony, the fiduciary of a deceased victim's estate or a member of a deceased victim's immediate family." W. Va. Code 61-11A-2(a)
The Court stated that "a court's ultimate discretion in accepting or rejecting a plea agreement is whether it is consistent with the public interest in the fair administration of justice." (Syllabus Point 4, Myers, supra.)
To assist courts in determining what the public interest would be, the Court stated:
"As to what is meant by a plea bargain being in the public interest in the fair administration of justice, there is the initial consideration that the plea bargain must be found to have been voluntarily and intelligently entered into by the defendant and that there is a factual basis for his guilty plea. Rule 11(d) and (f). In addition to these factors, which enure to the defendant's benefit, we believe that consideration must be given not only to the general public's perception that crimes should be prosecuted, but to the interests of the victim as well.
A primary test to determine whether a plea bargain should be accepted or rejected is in light of the entire criminal event and given the defendant's prior criminal record whether the plea bargain enables the court to dispose of the case in a manner commensurate with the seriousness of the criminal charges and the character and background of the defendant." (Syllabus Points 5 and 6, Myers, supra.)