Is It Too Late to Withdraw My Guilty Plea?

Categories: Colorado Springs Criminal Defense

guilty plea

Criminal Defense Attorney Serving Colorado Springs, Colorado

The criminal justice process is confusing and overwhelming. There are instances when criminal defendants may make a deal with the prosecution or feel intimidated by the process and enter a guilty plea, but later may regret their decision. Regardless of the reasons why they initially entered their guilty plea, the real question is whether or not defendants could withdraw their plea and start over.

To determine if a defendant can withdraw a plea, it will depend on what stage of the criminal process he or she is in. Any defendant who wishes to change the plea should speak with a criminal defense attorney to assess his or her options.

Pre-Sentencing Stage

If a defendant has not had his or her plea accepted during arraignment, then the defendant may withdraw the guilty plea. If he or she has pleaded, but not yet been sentenced, the defendant may be able to withdraw the plea, especially if the judge has rejected the negotiated agreement between the defendant and the prosecution.

For example, a criminal defendant may plead guilty in exchange for a shorter sentence, but the judge had decided that the sentence is inadequate and rejects the deal to issue a longer sentence. In this instance, the defendant may be able to withdraw the plea.

Post-Sentencing Stage

If a defendant is pleading guilty, he or she is typically required to waive the right to an appeal. Therefore, if the defendant is already sentenced, it may be difficult to withdraw a plea.

Even without a waiver, once the judge has issued sentence, getting out of the plea is extremely difficult. A judge may, however, set aside the conviction and allow the withdrawal only if it is necessary to avoid any form of injustice.

The Colorado judicial system prioritizes efficiency above all else. Therefore, they are not going to rehear a case or retry one if they don’t have to. A judge will consider all of the effects of allowing a defendant to withdraw the plea, including how it will affect a new case and how it will impact the state’s ability to try the defendant again (e.g., locating witnesses).

Factors That May Favor Your Withdrawal

There may be circumstances where the court will allow you to withdraw your guilty pleas. However, not all will apply to your case. Some factors that may influence a judge’s decision include:

  • The defendant did not understand the charges or effects of admitting guilty.
  • The defendant is obviously innocent, but pled guilty anyway.
  • The amount of time between entering the plea and requesting a withdrawal – if they the timeline is short, a judge may allow it more than when they are further apart.
  • The defendant lacks proper counsel or lacked counsel at the time of the plea.
  • A conditional plea was entered; therefore, the defendant reserved the right to appeal the case.
  • Defense did not counsel their client about the ramifications of accepting the plea deal.
  • New evidence has surfaced that exonerates the defendant.
  • The judge participated in the plea deal too much.

Speak With a Colorado Criminal Defense Attorney

Whether you pled guilty to a DUI or other criminal offense, it is imperative that you speak with a criminal defense attorney about withdrawing your guilty plea. Contact Christian A. Schwaner, P.C. today to discuss your case and explore your options. Call 719-577-9700 or schedule your appointment online.