Allocution is the formal inquiry by the judge of the defendant as to whether he has any cause to show why sentence should not be pronounced. Section 1200 of the Penal Code is in part as follows: "When the defendant appears for judgment he ... must be asked whether he has any legal cause to show why judgment should not be pronounced against him."
Section 1201 of the Penal Code is in part as follows: "He may show, for cause against the judgment: 1. That he is insane; ... 2. ... That he has good cause to offer, either in arrest of judgment or for a new trial. The defendant is represented by counsel and it is the function of that counsel, rather than of the defendant himself, to address the court on the defendant's behalf. (See People v. Merkouris, 46 Cal.2d 540, 554-555 [297 P.2d 999]; People v. Horton, 174 Cal.App.2d 740, 743 [345 P.2d 45]; People v. Glenn, 96 Cal.App.2d 859, 868 [216 P.2d 457].)
It is, of course, within the discretion of the court to permit a defendant personally to speak on his own behalf before judgment is pronounced and it is conceivable that there may be circumstances where the failure to do so may be an abuse of discretion. A party may not challenge the court's discretionary sentencing choices on appeal if that party did not object at the time of sentencing. However, counsel must have a "meaningful opportunity to object." This "can occur only if, during the course of the sentencing hearing itself and before objections are made, the parties are clearly apprised of the sentence the court intends to impose, and the reasons that support any discretionary sentencing choices." People v Scott (1994) 9 C4th 331. See also People v Ortiz (2012) 208 CA4th 1354, 1371.
The court is not required to issue a tentative decision before the sentencing date and need not describe its proposed sentence as "tentative" as long as it "demonstrates a willingness to consider" objections to the sentence the court indicates it intends to impose and the reasons for the sentence. People v Gonzalez (2003) 31 C4th 745.
NOTE: Counsel should consider requesting a brief continuance of the sentencing if the proposed sentence is unexpected, unusual, or particularly complex in order to further research and argue the issues. In complex cases, counsel should consider filing a sentencing brief before the sentencing date to assist the judge in understanding counsels' respective positions.