Is it Possible to Withdraw a Guilty Plea?
When you face criminal charges in Tennessee, you have the option to plead guilty to a crime instead of fighting the allegations. Many people choose to plead guilty based on plea agreements reached with a prosecutor that involves a lesser sentence or reduced charges. Sometimes, defendants without legal representation plead guilty simply because they believe they have no other option.
Whether you pled guilty to a crime on your own or based on the advice of an attorney, you may soon realize there might be unforeseen consequences of your guilty plea. Such consequences may include:
- Immigration issues, including detention and deportation proceedings
- Harsher sentences than expected based on a plea agreement, since the judge has the ability to reject the prosecutor’s recommendation
- Long-term consequences of a criminal record, such as difficulty finding a job or qualifying for benefits or housing
If you have second thoughts after you already pled guilty, you may have the opportunity to withdraw your guilty plea. This is not an easy process, and not every defendant has the right to withdraw a plea. It is critical that you speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Murfreesboro about your options right away.
If you plead guilty, you may not be sentenced right away. The judge may indicate that they plan to impose a more serious sentence than the one in your plea agreement, which may cause you to regret your guilty plea. If you have not been sentenced yet, the judge may agree to allow you to withdraw your plea and proceed with your case to trial.
It can be significantly more difficult to withdraw a plea after sentencing. Generally speaking, you will need to show a specific justification for the withdrawal, such as:
- Your guilty plea was not knowing, voluntary, and understanding. Before a court accepts a guilty plea, the judge should ask you numerous questions to ensure that you fully understand what it means to plead guilty and all the implications of doing so. If you were intoxicated, affected by prescription drugs, or psychologically unable to understand your plea at the time, you may be able to withdraw the plea.
- You had ineffective assistance of counsel. Not all lawyers have the same experience and knowledge of Tennessee criminal laws and procedures. Lawyers are required to inform clients about potential immigration effects and other possible consequences of a guilty plea, so their client understands what they are doing. If your lawyer failed to do so, you may seek a withdrawal.
- You were coerced into pleading guilty. If you can show that your guilty plea resulted from out-of-court threats, promises, or other deals offered to coerce you into pleading guilty.
- Your rights were violated. If the court denied you the right to counsel or otherwise violated your constitutional rights, it may be a good basis for a plea withdrawal.
- New evidence surfaced. Sometimes, after a guilty plea, new evidence will appear that would have been beneficial in proving your innocence. If new DNA analysis or other evidence arises, you may be able to withdraw your plea and defend against your charges at trial.
Discuss Your Options with a Knowledgeable Murfreesboro Criminal Defense Attorney
At Dotson & Taylor, our criminal defense lawyers can review your situation and help determine whether it may be possible to withdraw a prior guilty plea. Call 615-890-1982 or contact us online to discuss your criminal matter today.