Can I take back my guilty plea?

Guilty and Not Guilty Plea PaperworkIf you pled guilty to a misdemeanor or felony in Norfolk or Virginia Beach, you may change your mind about whether this was the best decision in your criminal case and may want to take back your plea. In Virginia, you have more options for withdrawing your plea before you are sentenced than if you wait until after the judge tells you your punishment. However, you should never decide whether to plead guilty, accept a plea bargain, or withdraw your plea without first consulting with an experienced criminal defense lawyer.

Withdrawing a Guilty Plea Before Sentencing

Under Virginia Code §19.2-296, a motion to withdraw a guilty plea can only be filed pre-sentencing in most cases. However, you would still have to convince the judge that you have good reasons to withdraw your plea before sentencing. Justifications for withdrawing your guilty plea include the following:

  • You are acting in good faith and have a defense against the charges you face.
  • You made a mistake in pleading guilty.
  • You would be prejudiced in your criminal case if you were not allowed to withdraw your plea.

Withdrawing a Guilty Plea After Sentencing

Your ability to withdraw your plea would be severely limited post-sentencing. Under Virginia Code §19.2-296, you must establish that withdrawing your plea is necessary to correct a manifest injustice. This is a hard burden of proof to meet. Ways you might be able to show this include:

  • You were not mentally competent to enter your plea.
  • You made the plea involuntarily for some reason, such as in response to threats by the prosecutor.
  • You have discovered new evidence that helps prove your innocence.
  • Your lawyer engaged in misconduct or provided ineffective counsel to you.

Are you facing criminal charges in Virginia Beach or Norfolk? Do you want to withdraw a guilty plea? Our knowledgeable criminal defense lawyers can explain your defenses and options and mount an aggressive defense strategy to help you get the charges dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense. Schedule your free initial consultation today by calling our Norfolk office at 757-625-1214 or completing our convenient online form to learn more about how we can assist you.