Court OKs longer sentence for laughing defendant

AP News
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Posted: Oct 22, 2015 4:25 PM

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal appeals court says a judge did not overstep his authority when he doubled a defendant's prison sentence after the man began laughing in court.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that judges can alter sentences during the course of the same hearing. At issue was a 2014 sentencing hearing for Ramon Ochoa, who was convicted of violating terms of his supervised release.

U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence O'Neill in California sentenced Ochoa to 12 months and a day in prison. But after he issued the sentence, he noticed Ochoa was laughing. Ochoa said he was laughing because he was surprised, but O'Neill accused him of laughing at the court and increased the sentence to two years.

A message for Ochoa's attorney was not immediately returned.