03 Aug 23

Withdrawing A Guilty Plea In Federal Court

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Last Updated on: 14th August 2023, 11:35 pm

Withdrawing A Guilty Plea In Federal Court

It’s not uncommon for a person facing federal criminal charges to enter into a guilty plea only for them to regret later and decide they want to withdraw the plea. Whether it’s because of a harsh sentence or other unprecedented circumstances, most people, whether wrongly or rightly accused, believe that they got a bad deal. Most of them wonder if it’s possible to rewind the proceedings effectively by withdrawing. If you or your loved one has entered a guilty plea and you are considering taking back the plea, read on for more information on how you can withdraw a guilty plea in Federal court.

Pre-sentence plea withdrawal

The truth is that sometimes it’s possible to withdraw a guilty plea. It usually depends on the state and the stage where they want to back down from the bargain. Withdrawing a guilty plea means that the case is reset back to the stage before reaching a plea bargain. The defendant and the prosecution can negotiate a new deal or move the case to the trial process. Other times the judge may dismiss the case altogether if the defendant plea withdrawal results from hard evidence on their innocence. Suppose the judge has not accepted the guilty plea; it’s easier for the defendant to withdraw the plea. It’s also possible to withdraw the deal before the issuing of a sentence.

Post –Sentence Withdrawal

Withdrawing a guilty plea is much more complicated if the judge has given the sentence. At this stage, withdrawal can only happen if the defendant can show that the conviction’s acceptance would be an apparent injustice. For some plea deals, the defendant has to waive their right to appeal. Also, the judge has to consider the effect that the act of withdrawing an appeal will have on the prosecution.

In favor of withdrawing a plea

Even though withdrawing a guilty plea is challenging, there are situations where is a judge can or is obligated to allow withdrawal. The first circumstance is if the defendant requests the withdrawal soon after making the plea deal. A judge may also set aside a guilty plea if convinced that the defendant isn’t guilty or indicate that the accused did not fully understand the charges or the implications of admitting guilt. This can happen even if the defendant does not ask for a withdrawal.

Withdrawing a Guilty Plea in Federal Court

Common Reasons for Withdrawal

Incompetence and misconduct by the defendants’ legal representatives are among the most common reasons for withdrawal. If the lawyers’ ineffectiveness was the defendant’s reason to accept a guilty plea, the judge could allow the plea’s withdrawal. If lack of adequate evidence or failure to explain to the defendant about a guilty plea’s effects are examples of ineffective lawyers. Furthermore, if the lawyer enters a guilty plea without his client’s full knowledge and consent is also another strong reason for withdrawing the deal. However, dissatisfaction and disappointment with your lawyer will not justify a plea withdrawal.

Another circumstance that may allow a defendant to withdraw is if they were psychologically incompetent when entering the plea. Substance abuse or mental health disorders are some of the typical situations for this factor.

New evidence that reinforces the defendants’ innocence may also facilitate in allowing for a plea withdrawal. If the judge agrees that the case looks strong, he may allow the defendant to withdraw. Manipulation and threats from the prosecutions also form ground to justify the withdrawal of the plea.

If the process faces constitutional problems such as the defendants getting denied access to counsel, a judge may allow the case’s withdrawal.

Should you get out of your plea?

The truth is that withdrawing your plea does not mean that you have reached the end of your case. What it means is that you are now about to start a trial. In most circumstances, if you take steps to get out of your plea and fail, things may get worse for you. However, if you have some significant evidence, you should go out of your way to ensure you get a better offer.


If you pleaded guilty and you are now considering withdrawing the plea, you will need to walk hand I hand with an experienced criminal defense attorney through the process. Such a lawyer can help you determine the conceivable bases you can use to set aside your plea.

Key Points of Withdrawing a Guilty Plea in Federal Court


The federal court system has a great deal of control over American’s lives. In general, there are two possible types of activities that can be brought in front of the courts. A civil court case is a disagreement over a civil matter between two parties. A judge may find that one party owes the other party money. In contrast, the criminal courts are where more serious cases are heard. If found guilty, the person can be sentenced not only to heavy fines but also to a possibly lengthy prison term. One type of court where criminal cases are heard is are the federal courts. The federal court system is generally reserved for the most serious of all crimes. Someone accused of an act of terrorism may find themselves in the confines of the federal court system. The same might be true of many other types of serious crimes. This might apply to those who are accused of robbing a bank, engaging in carjacking or as part of hate crime.

Entering a Guilty Plea

Those who are charged in a federal court have the option of fighting the charges. They also have the option of deciding on a guilty plea. Many factors can go into a guilty plea. The person may be scared. They may have been informed there is overwhelming evidence against them. A person may be depressed. They can also be pressed to agree to this agreement by others who may have interests that are not in accordance with their own. A person can also be pressured by law enforcement officials into believing they have no other choice. While it may look like a guilty plea cannot be taken back, it is possible to do so. All those who are planning this course of action should understand what is involved as well as any possible consequences that may come up.

It’s important to know that you might not be able to withdraw a guilty plea. If you have already been sentenced, you might not be able to tell the courts you would like to enter a plea of innocence because you dislike the sentence you were given. However, you might plead guilty and, in turn, expect to receive a certain sentence. For example, you agreed to a guilty plea for possession and expect a year’s sentence. If the judge makes it clear they wish to give you a longer sentence, you have the right to turn around and say this is not your wish. In that case, it’s best to let your lawyer know any deal is off the table.

At the same time, you should also think about if this is in your best interest. When you decide to withdraw that plea, you are making the specific choice to go ahead within the confines of the court system and see if you can convince officials that you are not guilty as charged. Many defendants chose to engage in a process known as plea bargaining. During this process, your lawyer and government officials may discus many possible outcomes. The prosecutor may show you that they have evidence against you hat might be used against you if you decide to take the case forward. A prosecutor may also point out that you have a history of prior criminal activity. This can be seen as a negative even if you are not guilty of this particular crime. All such factors can influence your decision to enter a plea in the federal courts system.

Certain Circumstances

In certain circumstances, it makes perfect sense to withdraw the guilty plea. At heart, if you are totally innocent of all charges, the last thing you want to do is plead guilty of a crime you did not do. You want to fight for justice if there’s a reasonable chance of a good outcome. A conviction in a federal court will have a serious impact on the rest of your life. You will probably face at least some prison time as well as a potential fine. You might be refused a professional license that you need to earn a living such as a state nursing license or the one you have right now might be revoked.

If you choose this course of action, make sure that you have the right legal counsel. The choice to move forward with a plea of innocence will mean new hurdles you might have to face. You could be moving past a plea deal that would have given you less jail time. They can help you decide if the evidence is on your side and how to make best use of it. If you’ve switched legal counsel, the new counsel can you see any evidence that might be used to help you get the results you want.

Withdrawing A Guilty Plea In Federal Court

The federal rule of criminal procedure allows defendants the right to withdraw a guilty plea before sentencing. However, this is not an absolute right since the court has to decide whether the reason for withdrawing is fair and reasonable. For a court of law to determine if the defendant has the right to withdraw a guilty plea, some standards have to be met. There are four tests that an attempt to withdraw a guilty plea must be subjected to. One, the defendant must establish that the reason for withdrawal is fair and reasonable. The defendant must also prove that he or she is legally innocent from the charges pressed against him or her. The court must also consider the time taken between the guilty plea and the motion of withdrawing. Finally, the court must decide whether and the government will be prejudiced in case the person facing federal charges chooses to apply for withdrawal of a guilty plea.

A fair and just reason

The standard of fair and just reason has been set as the first in-line when determining whether withdrawal of a guilty plea will be granted. This standard is seen as one that mimics the other three standards.

Declaration of innocence

If a defendant fails to assert his or her innocence, withdrawal of a guilty plea will be automatically denied. For a declaration of innocence to be considered, the defendant must prove beyond reasonable doubt that they are innocent from the charges they face.

Duration for a motion to withdraw

Withdrawal of a guilty plea should be undertaken not long after the guilty plea was taken. The more time the defendant takes, the less likely that the court will grant the withdrawal. It is considered that if a defendant made a guilty plea by mistake, he or she would move quickly to withdraw it. If it takes longer to withdraw, the matter may be considered as a strategic plan based on ulterior motives and not necessarily based on the innocence of the defendant.

Prejudice to the government

If a defendant has managed to prove his innocence without undue delay, the courts will have to determine whether the government will be prejudiced if it allows the withdrawal of the guilty plea. The court will have to determine whether the government will be in a position to present a case in a subsequent trial in case the defendant is released. If the defendant can’t be located or the witnesses will be interfered with, the courts might decide not to give the warrant. In most cases, the court will not deny the defendant the right to withdraw a guilty plea based on prejudice, but it will raise the bar for admissible justification. The defendant must prove that the reasons for withdrawal outweigh the potential of prejudice to the government.

When a court considers these four factors, it will decide whether the defendant should be allowed to withdraw the guilty plea before sentencing.

One of the reasons a defendant might consider withdrawing a guilty plea is a change in the law. If there is a change in the law affecting charges the defendant is facing, then a withdrawal is valid. If a law decriminalizes the charges which the defendant had pleaded guilty to, he or she should be considered innocent legally. It is therefore clear that innocence can be established if changes related to the crime contained in the guilty plea are effected.

When judges have received an indication that the defendant is not guilty or maybe did not understand the ramifications of pleading guilty, they might allow withdrawing of a guilty plea. Judges will also want to consider whether the defendant had legal representation at the time of taking the guilty plea. If the defendant lacked a legal counsel, there are high chances that the withdrawal plea will be granted.

Other reasons that might compel judges to allow a defendant to withdraw their guilty plea include cases where lawyers have entered into a guilty plea without the consent of their clients, in cases where the defendant was not informed of the ramifications of taking a guilty plea, new evidence of innocence is established, if the defendant entered into a guilty plea out of threats or off-the-record promises, and if the defendant pleaded guilty under the influence of substance abuse..