Guilty Plea Be Withdrawn

What Exactly Is a Plea Agreement?

A plea agreement is a proctored agreement between the prosecutor and the criminal defendant. In exchange for agreeing to plead guilty to an offense, the prosecutor usually agrees to some concession, such as dropping some charges, reducing charges or recommending a lighter sentence.

When Is a Plea Entered?

It is important to understand when a plea is entered to know when a plea agreement may be possible. A person may make a plea of guilty or not guilty at an arraignment. This is typically the second time that a criminal defendant has appeared before the judge and are usually scheduled within 30 days from the first appearance.

Can a Guilty Plea Be Withdrawn?

A guilty plea cannot usually be withdrawn. However, there are some exceptions. For example, if false promises or coercion was involved, the defendant may be able to change his or her plea. Because a guilty plea usually requires a defendant to provide a basic account of what occurred and a defendant to declare that he or she voluntarily and knowingly made the plea, it can be difficult for a criminal defendant to convince the court of being able to change his or plea when this information is already in the record.

Can a Not Guilty Plea Be Withdrawn?
In contrast, a criminal defendant can usually withdraw a not guilty plea at any point in the process, including from the very beginning of the case to right before the jury reads their verdict. For this reason, many criminal defendants often plead not guilty at arraignment and then change the plea to guilty after reaching a favorable plea agreement.

Who Decides Whether the Defendant Pleads Guilty or Not Guilty?

The criminal defendant has the right to determine whether to plead guilty or not guilty. While his or her lawyer may provide advice about which way he or she should plead, the defendant has the ultimate decision.

When Can a Plea Bargain Be Made?

A plea bargain may be made at any point in the process before the jury reaches a verdict. However, the most common time for a plea bargain to be made is after the arraignment but before the pre-trial hearing. However, a plea bargain may be made after a key event in the process, such as a motion being ruled in favor of the prosecution or the defendant. If a key witness becomes unavailable or recounts his or her story, a plea bargain may be made.