In our criminal defense practice, it is not uncommon for a potential client to call us to ask about withdrawing a guilty plea they entered in the past. Depending on the circumstances, this can be very challenging. However, it can be done.
When someone wants to withdraw a guilty plea they regret entering the guilty plea usually because of a negative consequence or consequences that have come about that were unforeseen at the time the individual entered the guilty plea.
The legal standard for withdrawing a guilty plea is rigid. To successfully withdraw the guilty plea, the defendant must show he or she did not knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently enter the guilty plea at the time the individual pled. This essentially means they were either unaware of the nature of the allegations or the potential consequences stemming from a finding of guilt.
In most cases we see, it is not necessarily the nature of the allegations the defendant was unaware of at the time of the plea. Typically, someone with this issue calls us to explain something has negatively affected them as a result of the guilty pela that they did not know would happen to them at the time they entered the plea.
For instance, a first degree misdemeanor domestic violence conviction will prevent the individual who pleads guilty to such from legally possessing a firearm. If that individual had plans to become a law enforcement officer or join the military, it will be impossible for that individual to move forward with those plans unless the plea is withdrawn and the charge is either dismissed, reduced, or otherwise modified to a different conviction. Another example may be where an individual plead guilty to a drug abuse offense and the individual was unaware the judge would suspend his or her license.
Sometimes, withdrawing a plea is less clear to a defendant but becomes an apparent need of a client to the criminal defense attorney. An example of this is where individuals come to us and want help sealing their record; however, they are not eligible because they have three convictions on their record. If one of these three convictions is a fourth degree misdemeanor, it may be possible to try to re-open the case by withdrawing the plea to resolve that fourth degree misdemeanor as a minor misdemeanor so that individual now becomes eligible to seal his or her record.
One time our firm represented a client who paid out a ticket for failing to yield to the right away of another vehicle. There was a crash and the other person involved ended up dying days later. Soon after that, our client was charged with vehicular manslaughter. The State of Ohio tried to use his payout ticket as an admission of guilt to prove he violated the statute which was a predicate offense for the vehicular manslaughter charge. We filed a motion to vacate the plea because we did not want the State of Ohio to be able to use that against our client. Ultimately, Charles H. Rittgers secured a NOT GUILTY verdict at trial on the vehicular manslaughter charge. This is one of many examples of cases in which we have filed a motion to withdraw a guilty plea.
If you or someone you know is interested in withdrawing a guilty plea, feel free to contact the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Rittgers Rittgers & Nakajima at 513-496-0134 for a free consultation.