Yes, a plea deal can be reversed. It’s easier said than done though. Usually, once a defendant pleads guilty in a plea deal, that’s it. However, in cases of injustice or violations of the plea deal, the deal can be broken.
The prosecution and the judge have the easiest route to a reversal. The defendant has far fewer options, but they can file a motion to withdraw a plea if there are certain circumstances. Here’s what you should know.
The Key Points of a Plea Deal
The key points of no return in a plea deal are when a defendant gives a plea and the court delivers a sentence. Once a sentence is given, it’s almost impossible for a defendant to take back their plea. It’s much easier to do so before a formal plea is given in court, and still possible before the sentencing if they give a good reason.
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The Judge and Prosecution Can Overturn Your Deal
Normally, the judge’s role in a plea deal is to accept it and enforce any violations. Thus, if you violate the terms of a plea deal they have the authority to overturn it and impose a new sentence. The judge has discretion on the sentencing depending on what the violation was.
A prosecutor can also withdraw a plea deal if it is done before the defendant enters a plea in court. However, this is seen as an unprofessional practice without an extremely good reason, especially after the defendant gives assent to the deal.
The Defendant Can Withdraw a Plea If the Court Has Yet to Accept It
If you plead guilty or no contest, you can withdraw it if the court hasn’t accepted it yet. If the court has accepted the plea but has not given you a sentence yet, you can withdraw it if you show a fair and just reason for the withdrawal request, also known as a motion to withdraw plea. These reasons include:
- An unjust plea bargain
- Entering a plea bargain without a lawyer
- New evidence comes forth that raises the chance of a successful trial
- The judge agrees that the defendant has a good case
- A violation of constitutional rights
- Incompetent or ineffective counsel
- A lack of understanding of the consequences of pleading guilty
You have the right to file a motion to withdraw a plea before you’re sentenced or within six months of a probationary sentence. If you believe you had poor counsel, you should seek new counsel before asserting they were ineffective.
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Examples of Reasons to Withdraw Your Plea
Let’s say that an immigrant was arrested for a crime. If they were not made aware of the immigration consequences of pleading guilty, that could be a reason for a withdrawal. Defendants must understand the consequences of a plea for it to count.
Another is coercion. Sometimes a defendant gets so scared by the prosecution that they panic and make a poor plea. Rarely, this may be a deliberate act by an inexperienced prosecutor trying to force a plea deal. All plea deals must be entered into willingly or they are invalid.
Incompetent counsel is another. Let’s say a prosecutor gave the terms of a plea deal to a defense lawyer, but they never communicated it to the defendant. The prosecutor may come back with a harsher deal because they were “ignored”, but it was the lawyer’s fault and shows incompetence.
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Contact an Attorney at the Simmrin Law Group for Help Today
For more help with plea deals and all that goes into them, contact the lawyers at the Simmrin Law Group. Consultations are free.
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