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If You Entered a Plea of Guilty or No Contest to a Crime in Florida, Can You Withdraw Your Plea?

If you have been arrested and charged with a crime in Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida and entered a plea of guilty or no contest to the charge, there may be a way to withdraw that plea and proceed with your defense to the criminal charge. After a defendant in a criminal case has been sentenced for the crime, the judge must let the defendant withdraw the plea if there is good cause, and the judge has discretion to allow a defendant to withdraw the plea if good cause cannot be shown
If a criminal defendant has already been sentenced for the crime, he/she still may be allowed to withdraw the guilty or no contest plea. After the sentence has been entered, the defendant must show that the plea resulted in a “manifest injustice” and that the defendant would not have entered the guilty or no contest plea absent the manifest injustice. In order for a plea of guilty or no contest to a criminal charge to be valid, the defendant must enter the plea freely, voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently. If some fact or circumstance prevented the defendant from entering such a plea, he/she may have right to withdraw that plea. Examples of valid reasons to withdraw a plea after sentencing include: the plea was not voluntary, the plea violated a plea agreement with the prosecutor or there was a legal error with the sentence.

Another circumstance where a defendant who pleads guilty or no contest to a criminal charge may be able to withdraw that plea is where he/she was not fully advised of his/her rights and defenses by the criminal defense lawyer. For instance, where the facts of the criminal case suggest that the defendant had a valid defense such as self-defense or duress and the defendant entered a guilty plea without knowing that he/she had a right to assert that defense, that defendant may be able to withdraw the plea even after he/she has been sentenced. It may be a manifest injustice for that defendant to plead guilty to a crime when he/she had a legitimate defense that would have exonerated the defendant.

If you have been charged with a crime in the Jacksonville, Florida or South Georgia area, it is important to contact a law firm whose lawyers understand the various issues involved in a criminal case. If you have plead guilty or no contest to a criminal charge and think that you were not fully advised of your rights and defenses, feel free to contact us to discuss your potential right to withdraw your plea.