Can I Get a Do-Over? Withdraw a Guilty Plea in New York

New York Criminal Procedure Law for Withdrawing a Guilty Plea

According to NY CPL statute §220.60(3), the appeal courts have established the limited basis by which a guilty plea may be withdrawn including: fraud, new evidence, judicial coercion, lack of voluntariness, serious mistakes, and/or defense counsel client omission to accept a negotiated plea bargain.

Note - while CPL §220.60(3) governs a motion to withdraw a guilty plea, it does not specify the criteria upon which a judge is supposed to decide whether to grant such a motion.

The vast majority of criminal cases in New York are resolved by way of a negotiated plea agreement. That is to say, most cases do not proceed to trial and often involve the accused pleading guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for a bargained-for sentence. With the prevalence of plea bargaining in our criminal justice system, courts are reluctant to allow somebody who has voluntarily withdraw a guilty plea (that is, take back) their plea of guilty.

Examples of a Defendant Withdrawing a Guilty Plea

Some examples of cases where the courts have allowed a defendant to withdraw their guilty plea based on judicial coercion include judges threatening to increase a person’s sentence if convicted after trial and threats to increase bail or remand a defendant into custody if they do not plead guilty. Serious errors by defense counsel, including failing to advise a client of the particular effects and terms of a proposed plea bargain or providing patently incorrect information can be the basis to withdraw a guilty plea. However, failing to advise a defendant about “collateral consequences” of a plea (e.g. effects on professional licenses, ability to receive certain government entitlements, etc.) are not a valid basis upon which a guilty plea may be withdrawn.

The list of reasons that are not a legally sufficient basis to withdraw one’s guilty plea is much longer. A simple change of heart by a defendant and second thoughts will not readily be granted to allow a defendant to withdraw their guilty plea. Simple, sudden assertions of innocence will also not be enough to undo a prior guilty plea. The reality is that our criminal justice system relies upon plea bargaining to keep the courts from coming to a grinding halt. Accordingly, judges are very reluctant to allow a defendant to withdraw their guilty plea and place their case back on a trial docket absent the showing of actual fraud or involuntariness.

Experienced Plea Deal Legal Counsel

While the burden of convincing a judge to let a defendant withdraw their guilty plea is steep, it is not impossible. Experienced criminal defense lawyers, like those of us here at Team Green Lawyers, have the benefit of decades of experience to help determine whether such a motion is practically possible under the unique circumstances of your case.

Contact us online or gives us a call today at (315) 215-0517 if you have any questions.