Being charged with a crime can be highly distressing. And while you may try to make the best decisions you can with the information you have, there is always the chance that you will make a decision that, on further reflection, is not the best choice for you.
If you’ve agreed to plead guilty to an offense but are now having second thoughts, you may be able to withdraw your guilty plea, particularly if you have not yet been sentenced. New Jersey allows individuals who have pled guilty to start the process of withdrawing their plea by filing a Motion to Withdraw a Guilty Plea.
The timing of this motion is very important, as it is most likely to succeed after you have agreed to accept the plea but before you have been sentenced.
If you have already been sentenced, you may still file the motion. However, you will have to meet a higher standard in order to have the motion granted. The court will only allow you to withdraw your plea after sentencing if you can show that a “manifest injustice” would occur if the guilty plea (and sentence) were allowed to stand.
To decide whether a “manifest injustice” would occur, the court considers four factors:
- Whether the defendant has demonstrated a claim of innocence,
- The reasons the defendant wants to vacate the plea,
- Whether the defendant has entered a plea bargain, and
- Whether withdrawal would cause unfair prejudice to the State.
Any time a motion to withdraw a guilty plea is granted, the next step is to schedule the case for trial on the court’s calendar. Withdrawing your plea does not end your case; it simply puts you back on track toward trial.
If you’ve been charged with a crime, contact an experienced New Jersey criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible—even if you’re in the process of considering or accepting a plea. Your lawyer can help you understand your legal options and take steps to move you toward a better potential outcome in your situation. Contact Rudnick Law today for a free consultation.