Monday, September 22, 2014

Withdrawing a guilty plea.

The law presumes legal proceedings are valid.  As courtrooms become more crowded and dockets busier, this presumption has become even tougher to overcome.  This is especially true with efforts to withdraw a guilty plea in a criminal case.  Judges simply do not have the time or inclination to "undo" what's been done.

Fortunately expediency still is not the sole consideration and due process requires a method to undo guilty pleas that are constitutionally suspect.  State and federal rules of criminal procedure provide a method to withdraw a guilty plea - even after sentencing - in circumstances where it would be just, although the task is usually a longshot in any event.

The longer one waits of course the less likely becomes any chance for success.  Wait too long and one may be barred altogether.  The most fertile grounds to investigate typically are the allegations underlying the charged offense (did a crime really occur), the judge's and/or prosecutor's rights advisements (required) before and during the plea hearing, and any colloquy between the judge and the defendant during the hearing especially if the defendant did not have a lawyer.  The analysis is quite technical and an experienced criminal defense attorney should be employed to handle the matter.

A tricky issue is whether the sentence can be put on hold - stayed - while the motion to withdraw the plea and related proceedings are investigated, prepared and otherwise pending.  This all takes time - weeks and months - and may not make sense if the sentence is executed meantime.  The law empowers the courts to stay a sentence pending further proceedings and this avenue should be pursued as necessary.

If you or someone you know wants to consider a plea withdrawal, call Sanderson Law, P.C., for advice and help.  303-444-8846.