A motion to withdraw a plea is a request made to the court to reverse the criminal court process in order to give you a fresh start. Such a motion is only granted once the judge has established the presence of good cause, which may be:
- You entered the plea without attorney representation,
- Your attorney did not inform you of some or all of the consequences of pleading guilty or no contest,
- You were coerced into pleading guilty,
- The attorney who represented you was incompetent,
- Language barrier,
- Where new evidence has surfaced,
- The attorney entered a guilty plea without your consent,
- You did not intelligently plead guilty, perhaps as a result of intoxication or mental handicap.
Under California penal code 1018, as long as a defendant demonstrates good cause and files a plea withdrawal before sentencing or within 6 months of a probation sentence, then such a defendant
- Has a right to file for a withdrawal in order to be given the opportunity to enter a not guilty plea, if the original guilty plea was entered without guidance from an attorney
- Has a right to file for a withdrawal, even where they had attorney representation.
It is also possible to withdraw a plea even after incarceration through a writ of habeas corpus. Your attorney can argue that your detention is unlawful because of certain details in your particular criminal case. You can also enter a motion for expungement once you have served your prison sentence. Expungements, although they don’t completely erase your conviction in California, effectively withdraw your plea.
A withdrawal plea is filed when you realize that pleading guilty or ‘no contest’ was not in your interest. For example, you may be advised that your plea will lead to unexpected penalties, or that a new, different plea is available and may result in a lighter sentenceHow the plea withdrawal process works
As long as you are working within the specified timeframe for filing for a plea withdrawal, you and your attorney can build your case to show there’s good cause for your plea. During the hearing, your criminal defense attorney will present your case to the court in good faith that the judge will accept the presence of good cause and grant the plea to withdraw.
If the plea withdrawal is granted, the criminal proceedings will start over, and you will get a new chance to plead not guilty. If the plea withdrawal is denied, you will be sentenced or continue serving your sentence.
Any plea bargains you had with the prosecution will be voided when you file a motion to withdraw a guilty plea.Losing a plea withdrawal motion
Losing your withdrawal motion binds you to your sentence. You do still have the option of filing an appeal while you serve your sentence, or expunging the conviction after the successful completion of probation. Through the appeals process, you can appeal the decision to deny the withdrawal plea by demonstrating that The judge:
- Made a legal error in the ruling
- Abused his/her power
An expungement can only be granted after full completion of a sentence. The process results in permanent erasure of a criminal record and thus gives you the right to state that you have never been convicted of any crimes.
Your criminal attorney can also petition for termination of probation and if this is successful, it means that you cannot be charged with probation violation since the court has withdrawn the penalty.