The man famous for his Hollywood movies, murdered wife, and life as a fugitive may be extradited from Switzerland to a Los Angeles, California courtroom. Polanski faces sentencing in a felony sex case over three decades old. He fled the United States jurisdiction after he pleaded guilty and before the sentencing hearing. He has a few options, however.
His lawyer’s first option will be to move to dismiss his case. The misconduct of his judge and a prosecutor in his case provides ample ammunition for a dismissal in the interests of justice.
He may also move to withdraw his plea. The law provides that a criminal defendant may withdraw his or her guilty plea for “good cause.” Good cause is an elastic concept, one that will almost certainly embrace the broken promises made by the judge and the other misconduct pervading his prosecution. Withdrawing his plea has some risks, most obviously that he would face charges substantially more serious charges than the one he is now facing (charges that will carry mandatory prison time – no probation). On the other hand, his attorney may calculate that the D.A. does not have sufficient evidence anymore to prosecute the case to verdict. Polanski would then be in even a better position than he is now – no conviction on his record.
Polanski’s last option is to face the sentencing squarely. Other Los Angeles judges have made favorable findings in his case, even in his absence. Polanski’s attorney can without doubt demonstrate an abundance of reasons that favor probation both as to the offense and the offender. An astute criminal lawyer may conclude, therefore, that the risk of a state prison sentence is very remote, and the likelihood of probation, and credit for time served, is very high.
The prosecution may elect to file a felony charge for failing to appear in court, but this will likely be defeated by their own failure for many years to make any real attempt to bring him to justice.
The battle is far from over, but Polanski is unlikely to suffer any further punishment in this case.