As it is with all legal questions - it depends.
There are different stages of a proceeding and all have different rules. Find a guide to these stages here.
Prior to a grand jury indicting a defendant, a defendant can only plead guilty with the consent of the DA's office. If we consent to a guilty plea to a reduced charge prior to indictment, we can also insist on the defendant's sentence or leave it up to the judge.
If the defendant doesn't like our conditions, we do not have to allow the plea. Also, the court does not have to accept the plea if they disagree with our sentence. If it remains open, that means the judge decides what the ultimate sentence is. The advantage of pre-indictment pleas for a defendant is their is an ability to control which judge accepts the plea and will impose sentence.
A defendant can plead guilty at any time to all the charges once he is indicted. If this happens, the judge has the sole discretion in sentencing.
If we offer the defendant a plea to a lesser charge following the indictment, we can attach sentencing conditions to the plea or leave it open as described above.
3) Guilty Verdict
Following a guilty verdict after trial, the judge is the sole decider of the defendant's fate. We can no longer attach any conditions.
In any scenario, the victim is allowed to address the court and let the judge know their wishes. A victim can speak in open court or submit a letter. How much impact that has on sentence is left up to each individual judge. In the majority of my cases, victims rarely want to speak at sentencing. When they do, it usually has a strong impact on the judge's decision.
The DA's office, defense attorney, and defendant also have the opportunity to speak, if they wish and address any topics related to sentencing.
An interesting note - the district attorney's office does not need the victim's consent to offer a reduced plea. It is part of our discretion. In practice, my office always discusses this situation with any victim and seeks their opinion.
Do you think a victim should have more control over what happens? Is it fair to leave it up to one judge as opposed to a panel? What are the ramifications of allowing the prosecutor and defense attorney to select the judge who accepts a pre-indictment plea?