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Michigan Criminal Law Blog

Can I Change My Guilty Plea?

In JailPleading guilty to a crime ensures you will face legal consequences. People choose to plead guilty for a variety of reasons, including a reduction in the severity of a punishment. However, there are also cases in which a person accused of a crime pleads guilty because he or she is pressured to do so or because he or she did not understand the consequences of a guilty plea.

Regardless why you’ve pled guilty to a crime, there are certain things you need to understand, especially if you now want to change your plea. It could be possible to change your plea, but it’s not a simple process. Working with an experienced attorney who understands the criminal justice system is essential if you want to successfully change a guilty plea to innocent.

Why Might a Judge Honor a Request to Change a Plea?

Judges consider a variety of factors when determining whether or not to accept a plea change. These include:

  • Whether you pled guilty while you were of sound mind and if you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • If you were properly advised of the ramifications of pleading guilty
  • Whether your attorney entered a plea deal without your consent
  • If you received a plea deal, whether it was fair
  • Whether your claims of innocence are legitimate and there is a strong chance a trial could end in your favor
  • You were denied any of your constitutional rights
  • Your reasons for wanting to withdraw your guilty plea
  • New evidence has surfaced in support of your case

Your attorney can help you build your strongest defense for why a change of your plea should be considered. An experienced criminal defense attorney can argue on your behalf that you did not voluntarily enter a plea deal or that you did not understand the ramifications of pleading guilty.

It’s important to work with an attorney who is knowledgeable and experienced right from the beginning. Keep in mind, dissatisfaction with your attorney’s performance is not enough to get a judge to accept a request to change a guilty plea. You must show your lawyer was ineffective and the reason you pled guilty for a judge to accept a plea change request based on legal representation.

When to Change Your Plea

Whether or not your request to change your plea is honored has a lot to do with when you decide to make the change. Your odds of a successful request are higher the earlier in the process you are. For instance, if a judge has not yet accepted your plea or you have not yet been sentenced, you’ll find it easier to make a change than if you wait until later in the process.

Once you’ve been sentenced, changing your plea is a much more difficult task. If you signed a waiver to not change your plea as part of a plea deal, chances are slim to none your request will be honored. And even without a waiver, the odds of getting a judge to accept a request for change after sentencing is a tall order. In most cases, a judge will honor a request to withdrawal a plea only if there is an obvious injustice. Judges are supposed to keep the legal system running efficiently and ensure there is no negative effect on the prosecution, so if your request creates a problem in either of these areas, you can assume your request will be denied.

Conditional Pleas

There are instances in which a plea is conditional. This occurs when a defendant enters into a plea on the condition he or she will have a right to have an appeals court determine an adverse ruling and if the appeal is won, the plea goes away.

For instance, if you believe evidence against you was secured illegally, you might accept a conditional guilty plea that gives you the right to challenge the legality of evidence collection and if the appeals court determines the evidence was obtained illegally, you’ll have the right to void your guilty plea.

For more general information on conditional pleas, check out Nolo.com.

What Happens If Your Plea Request Change is Honored?

If your request to change a guilty plea to innocent is honored, your case will revert to the point of your original plea. You’ll have the option of negotiating a new plea deal or going to trial. It’s also possible the charges will be dropped.

The important thing to remember, whether you have just decided to change your guilty plea or you are beginning again after your plea was withdrawn, it’s imperative to work with an experienced attorney. If your original attorney failed you or you need someone to help you with a plea change, we can help. To schedule a consultation to discuss the details of your situation, contact Andrew W. Kowalkowski, PLLC at 248.974.9594.

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