Withdraw Plea

motion to withdraw

So you want to withdraw plea?

Many times entering a plea seems like the right thing to do. You want to get out of jail, you want to fix your situation, and you want to get the case done with. However, the consequences of a plea can sometimes be irreversible. That is because when you enter a plea the judge and the criminal defense attorney go through extensive measures to make sure this is what you want to do. The judge often has a 10-15 minute plea colloquy that makes sure the Defendant knows what he is doing. Questions include whether he knows what he’s doing, whether he knows the consequences, whether he knows there is no turning back, whether he is doing this freely and voluntarily, and whether he has read the plea form (often multiple pages and incredibly detailed).

In order to withdraw your plea you have to show more than buyer’s remorse. You have to show that you were forced, coerced, not competent, lied to, manipulated, deceived, etc. It’s an incredibly high burden that is required in order to withdraw plea. Therefore, make sure that when you walk into the courtroom and admit to the crime and enter your plea that you truly know what you are doing. Make sure this is what you want to do.


So let’s assume you get the judge to your withdraw plea. Then what? Even if you get a chance to withdraw plea you are facing more battles ahead. For example, the judge is likely not going to view your recantation “lightly.” You worked with your criminal defense lawyers to help you to make a good decision. You entered the plea because you were trying to make the State’s job easier and the judge’s job easier. That’s part of the plea. It’s the good faith representation that you messed up and you’re sorry, which is why the judge cuts you a break.

However, when you withdraw your plea, a lot of that good will goes out the window. Sometimes you will be seen as an opportunist. A person who believes a plea is in their best interest if it benefits them, but if it’s not exactly what they want then they aren’t interested. This can be viewed as someone who truly isn’t sorry for their actions. Someone who has in essence misrepresented themselves to the court. If the judge allows you to withdraw plea, it should better be for good reason. Because, upon re-sentencing the judge can give you even more time.

How to properly withdraw a plea:

Sometimes there are circumstances that are unknown, or faulty beliefs held, which do give rise to a valid reason to withdraw plea. Over a lawyer’s career there will be several instances where a person truly has a good faith basis to withdraw the plea. The purpose of this page is more to inform you of the dangers of entering a plea, the dangers of attempting to withdraw plea, and making sure you take the process slowly, so you don’t have to make even more difficult decisions down the road.