09 Jul 20

Withdrawing Your Guilty Plea in Federal Court

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Last Updated on: 5th August 2023, 07:54 pm

Common Scenarios Where Defendants Often Consider Withdrawing A Guilty Plea

If you entered a guilty plea in a federal criminal case but now you have decided you want to fight to prove your innocence, it may not be too late to change your plea. If you are thinking about withdrawing your guilty plea, you need to consult with your lawyer to find out if it is possible to withdraw your plea, and also if withdrawing your plea will actually help your case. 

A seasoned lawyer is aware that the criminal process can be intimidating, and will understand that there are many reasons why a person might enter a plea that they then later want to withdraw. Perhaps you had been working with a public defender at the time.  Legal aid attorneys may not have sufficient time to allocate to winning your case, and perhaps could feel like a guilty plea gives you a better chance at a favorable result. Alternatively, you may not have understood what the differences in plea types are. Indeed, you might simply have changed your mind, or possibly have come into some new information relevant to your case.

Regardless of what the reason behind your compulsion to change your federal criminal plea, a well informed, experienced attorney should be able to talk you through it and help you decide the best course of action. 

Can I Withdraw My Federal Criminal Plea?

The language of the regulation in regards to withdrawing a plea simply states that you are allowed to withdraw your plea if it is in the interest of justice. Pursuant to the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, there are a multitude of situations that can meet the “interest of justice” requirement. If your attorney didn’t properly advise you in the decision process, or was otherwise ineffective, you would be able to withdraw your plea and have another chance to fight for justice. Where there were other problems or misunderstandings with the judge or in entering the plea, you could similarly be permitted to withdraw your plea.

In the event that you have been asked to enter a plea and still have a chance to get in touch with a talented defense lawyer, do so right away. If you have already entered your plea but are now unsure if that was the right thing to do, it isn’t too late to get in touch with a lawyer.  Think about it: what do you have to lose by simply asking? 

Is It a Good Idea to Withdraw My Guilty Plea in Federal Court?

If you are reading this and you are in a situation where you have already entered a guilty plea, you could be wondering why, and if, it’s a good idea to withdraw your plea. Withdrawing a plea isn’t the best idea in every scenario, even in cases where it is possible to do so, and it is critical that you consult an experienced defense lawyer who can guide you through the decision-making process. If you and your attorney are confident that you can win at trial, then you should withdraw your plea. On the other hand, if you are unsure about your matter, it may be wise to attempt to get a reduced sentence and leave the guilty plea in place. It is always a tough and case-specific decision, so consult with a lawyer as quickly as possible so you have an informed sounding board to think about every possibility.