Being arrested for a crime does not necessarily mean you will be convicted. Often we can help you get charges reduced or dismissed, and avoid jail and a criminal record.
In criminal cases in the United States, a defendant can generally seek to withdraw a guilty plea after sentencing by filing a motion to withdraw the plea and demonstrating good cause therefore. If the judge denies the motion, the defendant may be able to appeal the judge’s decision.
Under California criminal law, a defendant can also seek to withdraw a plea (after sentencing) by means of:
While there are some cases in which a defendant may wish to withdraw a plea deal, there are still some good reasons for why a defendant should explore plea bargaining. Some of these are:
In any event, a criminal defendant should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney or law office prior to entering a plea of guilty or nolo contendere.
Under the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, the main way a defendant can withdraw a guilty plea, or a plea of no contest, after a judge has entered a sentence is by “collateral attack.”1
“Collateral attack” means that the defendant must show that the plea resulted in some type of injustice. Courts will generally allow a defendant to contest pleas, or withdrawal them, for some of the following reasons:
If a judge denies a defendant’s motion to withdraw, then he/she could challenge the court’s decision by means of a direct appeal.
“Direct appeal” refers to the defendant asking that an appellate court (for example, a state criminal appeals court or the Supreme Court) review the decision of the trial court. If the appellate court finds significant legal issues that were handled erroneously, it may:
Note that an accused cannot withdraw a plea simply because he/she:
If a court accepts a plea but has not imposed a sentence, then a defendant can withdraw from the plea if he/she shows a fair and just reason for the withdrawal.1
A showing of a “fair and just reason” is similar to a collateral attack if sentencing has already taken place.
A court will typically agree to the withdrawal if:
If a guilty plea was entered in a California criminal case, but no sentence has taken place, then the defendant can seek withdrawal by filing a motion to withdraw, per Penal Code 1018 PC. This statute allows an accused to back out of a deal upon a showing of good cause.6
Examples of “good cause” include:
If sentencing has taken place, though, a defendant can still try to withdraw from a guilty plea. An accused does this by means of:
Some reasons for a court to grant a writ of habeas corpus petition are:
With regards to an expungement, a person can file this petition after he/she successfully completes either:
The petition asks the court to:
If granted, the expungement releases an individual from the negative consequences of a conviction.
There are certain advantages and disadvantages for a defendant to plead guilty to a criminal charge.
Some advantages to entering a plea deal are:
The main disadvantage of a plea is that it means the defendant waives his/her right to a trial. By accepting a deal, the defendant loses the possibility of a “not guilty” verdict at trial that could exonerate him/her completely of a crime.
A guilty plea is a serious matter and a defendant should only enter one after consulting with a criminal defense lawyer or a law firm specializing in criminal law.
A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.