Can I Withdraw My Guilty Plea In California?

[playht_listen_button]That’s it. The gauntlet has been laid, and you’ve found yourself struggling to force down that knot in your throat. You’ve just made a decision—a big one—a life-changing one. You’re standing in criminal court, and you’ve decided to enter a plea of guilty. The judge tells you that you’ll be back for sentencing in a couple of weeks. As you’re being led out of the courtroom, you’re starting to doubt yourself. Should you have pled guilty, after all? Here’s more on California’s law regarding withdrawing a guilty plea, including how a California criminal defense attorney can help you.

What Is A Guilty Plea?

When you plead guilty before the judge, you confess to the charge(s) and agree to forfeit your right to trial. You give up your right to argue against the charges and raise a reasonable doubt. Instead of preparing for trial, you’ll typically be sentenced according to the plea deal. There are many reasons why people will take a plea deal—lower sentence, having some of the scarier charges removed, fear, pressure, etc. But, now and again, you may ask yourself, “What if I changed my mind and I want to go to trial? Is it too late?”

Can I Take My Guilty Plea Back?

Simply put, it depends. The judge will not accept your “Motion to Withdraw” unless there is a good cause. “Good cause” means:

  • There wasn’t effective communication between you and your attorney regarding the consequences if you pled guilty.
  • You pled guilty, in open court, without counsel present or without counsel’s consent.
  • You pled guilty without being fully informed of your right to counsel and right to trial, and you freely waived it.
  • The court did not hold up its end of the plea deal.

If you believe that you have good cause to withdraw your guilty plea, you’ll need an experienced California attorney on your side. This motion is time-sensitive, so call My Rights Law at (888) 702-8882 or contact us online for a free consultation today.

How Can I Take It Back?

Like with most court-related matters, you’d file a motion. Here, you’d file a Motion to Withdraw. In it, you’d state why the judge shouldn’t accept your guilty plea. For example, you indicate that you were misinformed about the consequences (e.g. you didn’t know you’d be deported if you pled guilty). The judge then decides your Motion to Withdraw. Remember that you must file this motion before judgment is rendered or up to six months after sentencing.

What Happens If The Judge Accepts My Motion To Withdraw?

Your case will return to the point it was in before you pled guilty. You will return to arraignment, and all previous charges, including those dropped due to the plea, will be re-instated. You may invoke your right to go to trial. Because every trial comes with life-altering consequences, you’ll need an experienced California attorney representing you.

But I Am Innocent

When you plead guilty, you are disaffirming your innocence. You are also disaffirming the state’s duty to prove your guilt. Because the judge will not automatically accept a withdrawal, it’s ideal that you consult counsel and think carefully about the decision. It may be too late for you to withdraw your guilty plea, but there might be other solutions available to you.

California Criminal Defense Lawyer For Reviewing Your Guilty Plea

The criminal defense attorneys at My Rights Law are all about defending the rights of those accused of criminal offenses in California. If you find yourself wanting to withdraw your guilty plea, then contact My Rights Law’s knowledgeable California attorneys at (888) 702-8882 or contact us online.