Motion to Change or Withdraw a Plea


A plea bargain, or plea agreement, is an agreement between the prosecutor and the defendant for the defendant to plead guilty or no-contest under certain terms and conditions. The agreement could include the defendant pleading to all pending charges with a sentence agreement, or pleading to less than all of his pending charges, or pleading to a less serious charge, or pleading guilty to one or more pending charges in exchange for dismissal of other unrelated charges. All plea agreements must be approved by the judge. Plea agreements are a means of arriving at a reasonable disposition without the necessity of a trial.(1)

Plea Bargains Waive the Right to an Appeal

East Lansing, Michigan, Criminal Appeals Lawyer

There are three basic ways a defendant can enter a plea to charges: not guilty, guilty, or no contest. There is a fourth plea option, which is entered automatically if the defendant fails to appear in court, or refuses to enter a plea, in which case the court will automatically enter a plea of not guilty.

Defendants are often presented with the opportunity to enter into a plea bargain (or plea agreement) with the prosecutor or district attorney. Plea bargains require the defendant to enter a plea of "guilty" or "no contest," to avoid a trial and the risk of being convicted on more serious charges. In return the defendant is usually allowed to plead to a lesser charge, sometimes with the prosecutor's promise of recommending a lighter than maximum sentence.

It is important to understand that a prosecutor does not actually decide a sentence, and that by pleading guilty or no contest the defendant forfeits certain rights, including the right to an appeal. However, in some situations, a defendant may be able to withdraw a plea and regain the right to an appeal or to use other legal avenues such as asking for a new trial or getting a sentence reduced.

Motion to Change or Withdraw a Plea

There are many legal tools available to a defendant before, during and after trial that may help the defendant obtain a better outcome. However, when a defendant's guilty plea is accepted, the defendant may forfeit certain rights, including the right to appeal.

It is always easier when a defendant motions to change a plea after a conviction but before sentencing, but there are also legal remedies to withdraw or change a plea after sentencing. And, if you are withdrawing a guilty plea in a federal court, especially after sentencing, the procedures are far more complex and must be done by filing a petition for federal writ of habeas corpus (also called a “2255 petition”).

A judge has the right to accept or deny the request, and many are denied. The request must have some legal basis, such as if the defendant plead guilty under duress, threat or without proper knowledge of the charges. For the most part, the burden is on the defendant to show there is something substantial to back their request to withdraw a guilty plea.

If you wish to withdraw a plea, it is to your advantage to hire an attorney that has experience in dealing with post-conviction motions and appeals. An attorney who knows how to review a case and apply the law properly will have a better chance of successfully filing a motion to change or withdraw a plea.

Michigan Criminal Law, Motions and Appeals Attorney

We handle appeals and post-conviction motions throughout Michigan including East Lansing, Detroit, Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, Saginaw, and Ann Arbor.

Once a verdict has been reached, it is difficult to withdraw or change a plea. However, there are legitimate cases where a defendant may have agreed to a plea because they did not understand what they were doing, was misled or coerced, or promised a specific sentence in exchange for a plea. For example, a prosecutor cannot promise a defendant will actually receive a particular punishment or sentence if they plead guilty because judges decide sentences— not prosecutors (in some capital cases, sentencing may involve a jury). Only a judge may accept or reject sentence bargains. If a defendant was provided ineffective counsel, one option that may be considered is a motion for Ginther Hearing.

Attorney Scott Grabel is an experienced criminal defense appellate lawyer who knows how to review court records and see if there is any basis upon which a defendant can change or withdraw a plea.

Do not assume you have no further legal options available to you; call our law offices today at 1-800-342-7896, or contact us through our website to schedule a free consultation. Your life is worth fighting for, and our attorneys may be able to help you obtain a more favorable outcome through post-conviction legal services or an appeal.

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