A criminal defendant has the right to be present at the pronouncement of sentence. “Therefore, after a sentence has been pronounced, the written judgment may clarify the terms of the spoken sentence, but may not add to them.” If there is a substantive difference between the spoken and written versions of a sentence, the spoken version ordinarily controls.
Based on this rule, in United States v. Dodd, 18-2320 (2d Cir. Oct. 28, 2019), the Second Circuit ordered the district court to strike a condition of supervised release that the court had added to the written judgment, but which it had not imposed orally at sentencing. The condition prohibited the defendant from maintaining or opening any bank or financial accounts without approval from his probation officer. Because the condition had not been part of the oral sentence, on appeal the government conceded that it must be vacated.
In the same summary order, the Circuit upheld a different condition in the written judgment that appeared to differ from the oral sentence. The Circuit noted that it had permitted modifications adding a condition of supervised release if that condition was classified as “mandatory” or “standard,” since it considered this merely a clarification of the oral imposition of supervised release, and not an improper addition to the terms of the sentence.