The legal jargon heard in your average court case requires years of education to understand. If you’ve never been exposed to this kind of language before, you may misinterpret the questions you’re asked. In turn, you may issue a plea without understanding what it is that you’re signing yourself up for.
California Penal Code Section 1018 allows you to backtrack these statements under certain conditions. If you need to revise something you’ve said to a California court, the criminal defense lawyers with Simmrin Law Group can help you get the job done.
The Purpose of a Motion to Withdraw a Plea
A motion to withdraw a plea allows you to revoke a previous statement regarding your relationship to criminal charges. If you’ve previously pled guilty or no contest, a withdrawal may allow you to return to court and better defend yourself.
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When to Use a Motion to Withdraw a Plea
If you are brought forward in a criminal case, you have the right to plead guilty or issue a no-contest plea. There may come a point, however, where you wish to revoke that plea – which you retain the right to do. You can work with an attorney to submit a withdrawal of plea so long as you do so within the appropriate deadlines.
California’s courts allow you to submit your motion:
- Before you receive your final sentence
- Within six months of a probationary sentence
If you are sentenced to time in jail or a state prison, you will not have the right to withdraw your plea. Instead, individuals who’ve been incarcerated and want to withdraw their pleas should discuss the expungement process.
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How to Submit a Motion to Withdraw a Plea
If you want to submit a motion to withdraw a plea to the court considering your case, you can work with a criminal defense attorney to draft your request. Once you’ve put your request down in writing, either you or your attorney can bring the paperwork to your county clerk.
A judge and their representatives will then consider the “good cause” that you brought forward. You’ll receive word as to whether or not your request has moved forward courtesy of your attorney.
In cases where a motion is denied, you will receive a sentence fitting to the court’s findings and your initial plea. If the motion is granted, your case will begin again. Note that winning a motion to withdraw a plea sees a court throw out all the evidence and testimony issued in your original case. In turn, you’ll need to reprepare your applicable arguments.
Establishing “Good Cause” in a Withdrawal Motion
Judges in California only grant withdrawal motions to individuals who can indicate that they have “good cause” to revoke their statement. Examples of good cause can include but are not limited to:
Misunderstanding of the Plea’s Context
Legal jargon isn’t always easy to follow. If your attorney isn’t able to explain your case’s proceedings in a way that you understand, you may have the right to issue a withdrawal motion based on the ineffective assistance of your counsel.
As with all other forms of good cause, you’ll need to prove that the communication you received regarding your case violated the court’s reasonable expectations of its attorneys. Determining what behavior is “reasonable” and what is not is often a matter of subjective opinion. That’s why you can connect with an alternative attorney if you want guidance throughout this process.
Individuals who do not speak English in California are permitted to have an interpreter present throughout every consultation they have with an attorney, a judge, or other legal parties. Even so, the meaning of certain legal terms can get lost between languages.
You can submit a withdrawal motion if you believe that a language barrier led you to plead a certain way. However, you must prove that the interpreter on the scene at the time you made your plea failed to translate the court’s meaning to you. Alternatively, you can prove that the interpretation you received was not exclusive to your best interests.
Defendants who work with a group may be pressured to take the fall for their peers. In this same way, government officials and other powerful representatives can coerce a defendant into pleading guilty, even if that defendant had nothing to do with the case at hand.
It can be dangerous for someone who’s been coerced into pleading guilty to go back on that statement. That’s why it’s best for defendants to speak with their attorneys if they feel that they’ve been compelled to submit evidence that deliberately weakens their case.
A defendant who believes that their previous representation did not look into their case in full detail can issue a withdrawal motion based on assumptions of incompetence. This is not evidence of good cause if the defendant cites dissatisfaction or a personal vendetta against their previous attorney.
Rather, anyone who issues a withdrawal motion under this good cause must prove that their representation was unreasonable in its incomprehensiveness. Additional evidence can include documentation of an ineffective negotiation process or testimony that was otherwise ignored.
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Winning a Motion to Withdraw a Plea
If you win your motion to withdraw a plea, you will be released from any consequences you currently face. However, a court will also set a date for a new arraignment. You can work with a criminal defense attorney to begin your court case again, this time presenting evidence in such a way as to back your new plea.
Losing a Motion to Withdraw a Plea and Appealing
Losing a motion to withdraw a plea doesn’t spell the end for your legal options. You have the opportunity to appeal a rejected plea or fight to expunge your original charge.
Contact Simmrin Law Group for Criminal Defense
California Penal Code 1018 strives to give you the means you need to challenge undue processes in a court of law. If you want to issue a motion to withdraw a plea, let our team give you a hand. Simmrin Law Group’s criminal defense attorneys throughout California can help you both submit your initial request and appeal a rejection.
Do you have questions about a motion to withdraw a plea? Contact our office over the phone or through our website to schedule your free case evaluation.