Withdrawing a Guilty Plea

Visit our Morristown and Bergen offices for assistance withdrawing a guilty plea in Morris, Passaic, Essex and Union Counties

New Jersey Plea Withdrawal Attorney

Timing of the Plea Withdrawal

When a defendant seeks to withdraw a guilty plea, the time at which the assertion is made bears considerable weight.  Prior to sentencing, a motion to withdraw a plea is within the discretion of the judge and should be liberally permitted.  Post sentencing, the withdrawal of a plea must be supported by sound and overriding reasons. 

The Burden Is On the Defendant

Unlike at a trial to find guilt or innocence, the defendant bears the burden of proving that equity requires withdrawal of the plea.  The four factors which the court must consider are

  1. Whether the defendant has asserted a colorable claim of innocence;
  2. The nature and strength of defendant’s reasons for withdrawing the plea;
  3. Any plea bargains which existed; and
  4. Whether withdrawal would unfairly prejudice the state or offer an unfair advantage to the accused. State v. Slater 198 N.J. 145 (2009)

When evaluating the defendant’s case under the above factors, a judge will require specific credible facts which support a claim of innocence and the reasons presented for the withdrawal must withstand a balancing of equity and skepticism.  When a plea was entered under terms favorable to the defendant, there is a higher burden to obtain withdrawal but this must be considered in light of the other 3 factors.  The inquiry most substantial in the forth factor is whether the passage of time has inhibited the prosecution’s ability to prove their case and also conferred a benefit on the defendant.

How We Can Help You If You Choose To Withdraw Your Plea

Two cases, State v. Slater 198 N.J. 145 (2009) and State v. Munroe, 210 N.J. 429 (2012) set the standard for plea withdrawal in New Jersey.  In Slater, the appellate court held defendant was able to show he was only a visitor in a hotel room where drugs were found and should have been permitted to withdraw his plea based on lack of knowledge.  Munroe admitted his presence at the crime scene and never denied his participation in the violent confrontation but was able to advance a valid self-defense claim and should have been permitted to withdraw his plea.  Other reasons withdrawal of a plea might be warranted include newly discovered evidence which was not knowable at the time the plea was entered, defendant’s lack of understanding of the plea due to mental defect or intoxication, failure of the prosecutor to clearly set forth onerous terms of the agreement or the existence of threats or promises made to the defendant off the record.

Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Claims

Defendants are often unhappy with their attorney when the dust settles and they are serving their sentence but simply disliking the fact that you were not found innocent or the charges were not dismissed is not sufficient to withdraw a plea.  Unless the lawyer you choose is completely ineffective, you are unlikely to be permitted to withdraw your plea due to your unhappiness with your lawyer’s services.  Therefore, it is imperative that you choose a highly effective and experienced criminal defense attorney who will fight hard to protect your rights and obtain the best result possible under the circumstances.

Assisting Clients with Plea Withdrawals throughout Northern NJ

Accepting a plea offer can have lasting and substantial consequences and should not be taken lightly.  If you are serving a sentence under the terms of a plea agreement you believe you may validly withdraw, you should contact us immediately for assistance withdrawing your plea.  At The Darling Law Firm, we have the experience needed to fight for your rights.  We can evaluate the reasons you wish to withdraw your plea, advise you whether you have the information required to meet the burden of proof and present your case to the court in the most favorable and compelling light.  If you are visiting this site, now is the time to call 973-584-6200 or click here to e-mail us to find out whether your plea may be withdrawn.

The Darling Law Firm has locations in Morris and Bergen County, New Jersey to conveniently serve our clients seeking to withdraw pleas in Morris, Bergen, Passaic, Hudson, Essex, Hudson, Union, Sussex and Warren Counties.

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