Withdrawing A Guilty Plea In Federal Court

Sometimes a person will enter a guilty plea on a federal criminal charge and decide later that he or she wants to withdraw the plea.

In the short video below, Washington DC criminal defense attorney Matt Kaiser explains how withdrawing a guilty plea in federal court works.

As the video explains, if you have entered a guilty plea to a federal criminal charge, there are really two questions that are relevant to whether you can withdraw it. First, can you withdraw the plea and, second, should you?

If you've entered a guilty plea, or a loved one has, and is thinking about withdrawing it, please watch this short video. If you'd like to talk to us about withdrawing a guilty plea in federal court, please call (202) 640-2850.

Video Transcript:

I talk to people who have pled guilty in federal court and they are trying to decide whether or not to withdraw their plea. I see this as really two questions: Can I withdraw my plea? and, second,should you withdraw your plea? They really are separate questions.

Sometimes you can withdraw a guilty plea. You can do it if it's in the interest of justice. That's the language in the rule. What that normally means is there is some problem with the conversation you had with the judge when you were entering your plea. Or your lawyer was ineffective, your lawyer didn’t do for you what he or she should have done for you when you were trying to decide whether to take the plea. I had one case where for my client we were able to convince the court that what he was accused of doing wasn’t a crime at all and someone else that already pled guilty in that case. That person was able to get out of his plea agreement because he had pled guilty to something that wasn’t a crime. But those are pretty rare circumstances and so whether or not you can get out of a plea it's a tough question that you should talk to with the lawyer.

Perhaps more importantly is the second question – should you get out of the plea? Because if you get out of your plea that doesn’t mean you are done. What it means is you then have a trial, if you try to get out of your plea and you failed most plea agreements have language in there that says things get worse for you. So it's sort of a, if you are going to shoot the king, you have got to kill the king sort of situation. But really then you are in a place where you are trying to figure out do I want to go to trial. Maybe you do, maybe you got great evidence, maybe you have got something to say but on the other hand maybe you don’t and maybe you are not going to get another offer as good as that one you have already bid one. So if you are thinking about withdrawing a plea those are the two questions you should consider and consider carefully before you do it.