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Understanding the Proper Times to Withdraw a Guilty Plea

Posted on in Criminal Defense

Wisconsin defense attorney, Wisconsin criminal lawyer, criminal lawMaking the decision to plead guilty to a crime is never an easy task for anyone to do. You are forced to stand up in front of a judge and admit the allegations recited by the prosecutor. Commonly, those that plead guilty often regret their decision later on. The lingering question in the mind of people in this situation is, “Can I withdraw my guilty plea?” Depending on the situation, whether or not you have already been sentenced, and reasons for withdrawing, you may be able to.

Generally, it is much easier to withdraw your guilty plea prior to sentencing as opposed to attempting to withdraw it after sentencing. Although it is easier, however, it is not simple by any means. Typically, a judge will look to several factors in deciding whether or not he or she will grant your motion to withdraw your guilty plea. These factors include:

  • Whether or not you are actually innocent;
  • Whether or not the plea agreement was fair;
  • Reasons why you want to withdraw your guilty plea; and
  • Whether or not granting your motion to withdraw your guilty plea will prejudice the prosecution’s case or lead to an unfair result.

Withdrawing Your Plea Prior to and after Sentencing

It is important to remember that, if you are merely dissatisfied with your deal, and believe you could have received a better deal, the court will, in most cases, not permit you to withdraw your guilty plea. Buyer’s remorse is not a good enough reason to withdraw your plea. There has to be more, as you can see from the factors listed above.

If you are attempting to withdraw your plea sometime prior to sentencing, the judge will permit withdrawal in certain circumstances, so long as the prosecution is not prejudiced in relying on the plea agreement. You will have a much higher success rate of withdrawing your guilty plea if there was a procedural error in the plea process. If a procedural error is not present, you need to present the court with a “fair and just” reason. This could be the case if your attorney failed to advise you of the consequences of pleading guilty.

Under Wisconsin law, your plea of guilty must be knowing and voluntary. The law does not limit the right to withdraw your plea and permits you to withdraw your plea in many instances if the judge fails to inform you of your rights, if there was a procedural defect or if there might have been newly discovered evidence that proves your innocence. However, it is important to note that if you waived your right to appeal the guilty plea, as part of the plea agreement, it will be much harder to appeal the plea. Even with this waiver, you will still be able to fight the plea but it will likely be a lengthy process.

Consult an Attorney

If you mistakenly entered into a guilty plea, you should contact an experienced Milwaukee criminal defense attorney to thoroughly review court proceedings and transcripts to ensure that proper procedure was followed in your case. Also, if your initial attorney failed to properly advise you of the consequences of pleading guilty, you have grounds to show that the plea was not knowing and voluntary.

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