Can A Defendant Withdraw A Guilty Plea?

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Many defendants to a criminal case and their lawyers accept a plea-bargaining agreement because of the lighter sentence. A plea-bargaining agreement usually results in lesser time in jail. The case is resolved more quickly to avoid the time and expense of a court trial. The best advice will usually come from an experienced criminal defence lawyer.

However, there are instances wherein the accused regrets pleading guilty to the crime because he believes that he got a raw deal. The question here is whether the courts will allow the withdrawal of the plea.

A guilty plea can be withdrawn when it has not yet been accepted by the judge. Defendants who have pleaded guilty can get out of the deal if they have not yet been sentenced particularly when the judge rejects the negotiated agreement that the defendant has pleaded to.

There are also some plea deals where the defendant has to waive the right to make an appeal. Undoing a plea in these circumstances can be quite difficult. Once the judge has sentenced the defendant, the odds of withdrawing from the plea deal can be tough even if a waiver is made. The trial judge will only set aside the conviction and allow a defendant to withdraw his plea if there is an obvious injustice.

There are common scenarios where the judge approves a withdrawal of a plea.

  • The defendant is psychologically challenged, intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol so that he cannot intelligently decide to plead guilty.
  • The defendant’s legal counsel failed to advice his client as to the serious ramifications of the guilty plea like deportation for an immigrant.
  • The defendant did not consent to the guilty plea that his lawyer entered on his behalf
  • There appears to be a viable chance if the case goes to trial
  • The defendant was denied one of his constitutional rights which is the right to legal counsel

It is important for a defendant to call Donich Law before pleading guilty to a crime. An experienced criminal defence lawyer will analyse the pros and cons of the plea-bargaining agreement so that the defendant will understand the ramifications of his decision.

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