You may have accepted a plea deal only to change your mind later on. It could be because you believe you got a raw deal or were unaware of the rights you waived after accepting the deal.
In such a case, can you withdraw your guilty plea? Here is what you need to know.
What the law in Virginia says
Under Virginia law, you can withdraw a guilty plea if you have not been sentenced. However, you need to convince a judge to grant your motion to withdraw. Some of the reasons a judge may allow a defendant to withdraw a guilty plea include the following:
- They entered the plea by mistake or did not understand the nature of the charges.
- They entered the plea involuntarily through fraud, coercion or undue influence.
- The defendant has a defense against the crime they are accused of.
- The withdrawal of the guilty plea will promote justice.
You can also withdraw a guilty plea after sentencing if it is necessary to correct a manifest injustice. That’s a specific finding by the court that the outcome of a case is plainly and obviously unjust. This can only happen if the court sets aside the judgment of conviction within 21 days of entering a final order and permits a defendant to withdraw the guilty plea.
Do not rush into accepting a plea deal
Withdrawing a guilty plea is not as easy as it sounds due to the legal complexities involved. It may not even be possible in some cases. Therefore, it is best to have experienced legal guidance at every stage of your criminal case to help you make the right decisions and protect your interests along the way.