Pleading guilty or no contest to a criminal charge or charges typically occurs in one of two ways. Many people enter a plea agreement, in which they agree to plead guilty to one or more charges, usually in exchange for a more lenient sentence or the dismissal of some charges. Alternatively, individuals can enter an “open plea,” in which they agree to plead guilty without relying on any recommendations by the prosecutor and leaving their sentence up to the discretion of the court.
Although it does not happen frequently, it may be possible for you to appeal a plea bargain under some circumstances. For instance, if you do not knowingly or voluntarily accept a plea agreement, you may have grounds for appeal to the trial judge or higher appellate courts in some cases. One situation in which a plea bargain might be appealable is if your attorney did not properly advise you of some issues related to your plea. For instance, if your attorney failed to inform you of the immigration consequences of your guilty plea, you may have grounds for an appeal based on ineffective assistance of counsel. Likewise, if you did not fully understand the complete consequences of your plea, you might have a basis for an appeal.
Impaired judgment or a lack of mental capacity to understand a plea agreement may be sufficient grounds to appeal your guilty plea. In some cases, there may be technical grounds that support an appeal, such as clerical errors that result in you receiving a sentence that reflects an incorrect number of jail time credits.
Appealing your guilty plea after you have been sentenced for a crime, while not impossible, is not a common occurrence. Although some individuals receive their sentence on the same day that they enter a plea, most people have some time between their plea and their sentencing. Typically, a trial judge only will allow individuals to set aside their convictions and withdraw their guilty pleas in exceptional circumstances in which it is necessary to avoid injustice. For example, if a lawyer entered a plea on your behalf without your knowledge, you might have grounds to appeal. Similarly, if you were denied a constitutional right during the process, such as the right to counsel, then you might have a basis for a successful appeal.
At Peek & Toland, we care about helping you through your criminal proceedings. We will focus our efforts on advocating on your behalf and representing your interests throughout your case. Our knowledgeable criminal defense lawyers know the best strategies for defending you and working toward your desired objective. Allow us to handle your criminal case by sitting down with us today and discussing your situation.