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Motion to Withdraw Plea - California Penal Code Section 1018

Posted by Alan Eisner | Mar 05, 2018

Motion to Withdraw Plea - California Penal Code 1018 PC
Penal Code 1018 PC withdrawal of a plea grants you the right to withdrawal of your guilty or no-contest plea, if you have good cause.

Withdrawal of a Plea is covered under California Penal Code Section 1018, which grants you the right to withdrawal of your guilty or no-contest plea, if you have good cause.

If you are a defendant in a criminal case, and decide to plead guilty, you will sentenced by the judge pursuant to a plea agreement reached. In some situations, you might decide you made a mistake and should have not pleaded guilty.

Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers can assist you by filing a Motion for Withdrawal of Plea. The “motion to withdraw” is a formal request that asks the court to allow you take back your plea.

If the judge grants the request, the proceedings will essentially rewind back to the arraignment. Any deals you might have made with the Los Angeles County prosecutor are undone, and you get a new chance at trial.

However, it's very important to note the judge will not just automatically allow you to withdrawal your guilty plea. You must have sufficient legal grounds. You can't just withdraw a guilty plea anytime because you don't like the consequences or simply regret your decision.

The legal grounds on whether the guilty plea should be withdrawn frequently involve bad communication between you and your criminal lawyer. You might not be sure if you made the correct decision because you were not sufficiently informed of the strength or weakness in the prosecutor's case against you, and your chances of success if you had decided to take the case to trial.

When there are communication issues between you and your attorney, mistakes are frequently made. For example, in a DUI case, you might agree to plead guilty in exchange for a negotiated deal arranged by a very busy Los Angeles County public defender.

While they are highly experienced criminal lawyers, they often carry an extremely high case load and are unable to dedicate sufficient time and resources to your case.

After you plead guilty and before you are sentenced, you may discover your plea bargain was not the actual deal you agreed to, and you were not properly informed of the consequences. Under this example, this is when it might be appropriate to withdraw your plea.

Are You Seeking a Plea Withdrawal in Los Angeles?

If you are seeking a withdrawal of you plea, contact a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer at Eisner Goring LLP. In order to determine if a motion for withdrawal of plea might be successful, our attorneys will need to thoroughly review your entire criminal case and consult with your current lawyer.

If we determine that such a motion might have a chance of success, we will then decide if the motion to withdraw plea should be filed in court. In some situations, filing the motion may not be in your best interest.

For example, in situations where your plea of guilty is withdrawn, it might result in a more severe sentence than what you would have originally received, prior to filing the motion. This situation is not uncommon in Los Angeles County Criminal Courts.

Therefore, the issue on whether to file a motion to withdraw your plea needs to be first closely evaluated by our experienced criminal defense lawyers in order to determine what is in your best interest. Now that we have covered a basic overview of a plea withdrawal in California, let's take a closer look at some legal definitions below.

California Penal Code Section 1018 – Withdrawing a Plea

Under California Penal Code Section 1018, the legal definition of withdrawing a plea states: 

  • "Unless otherwise provided by law, every plea shall be entered or withdrawn by the defendant in open court. On application of the defendant any time before judgment or within six months after an order granting probation is made if entry of judgment is suspended, the court may, and in case of a defendant who appeared without counsel at the time of the plea the court shall, for a good cause shown, permit the plea of guilty to be withdrawn and a plea of not guilty substituted. This section shall be liberally construed to effect these objects and to promote justice."

When Are You Allowed to Withdraw Your Plea?

The key terms here on when you are allowed to withdraw you plea are: “for a good cause shown.” What exactly does that mean?

In simple language, in order to effectively withdrawal your plea; there must be a good legal reason, not just because you changed your mind. Under California Penal Code Section 1018, the court requires you to show “good cause” to file a motion of withdrawal of plea.

Good cause can be shown when you can demonstrate your plea was entered as the result of some type of mistake, ignorance, inadvertence, or another factor that shows you did not intend to enter the guilty plea.

The California court system has defined good cause as:

  • You did not have an attorney when you agreed to a plea bargain;
  • You did not understand the consequences of your plea bargain;
  • You had an incompetent lawyer or ineffective assistance;
  • You were coerced or threatened into entering the plea;
  • There was a language barrier when you entered your plea;
  • You were not advised of your constitutional rights.

A common example in Los Angeles County includes a situation where you agreed to a plea bargain, and find out later it could impact your immigration status and get you deported.

Another example is when you find out your will lose your professional license as a result of your plea. If these consequences were not properly explained to you, it may be possible to withdraw your plea.

If you believe any of these above mentioned causes apply to your situation, you should consult with a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer at our law firm to closely review the details. It's important to understand this process is not easily achieved without skilled legal representation.

What If The Court Grants My Motion to Withdraw Plea?

If the court grants your motion of withdrawal of plea, it means your criminal case is put in the same position it was prior to the guilty plea. What does that mean exactly? This means you will have the right to proceed to trial or you could enter a new plea bargain that might be a more favorable outcome. 

Withdrawing Your Plea Legal Process

In general, you can use a motion to withdraw your plea BEFORE you are sentenced, or up to 6 months after sentencing, if it's a probationary sentence. If you decide you want to withdraw your guilty plea, a motion of withdrawal of plea has to be prepared by your criminal defense lawyer and filed with the court.

A motion of withdrawal of plea can be made at any time before you are sentenced, or within six months of the entry of judgment. Once a motion to withdraw plea has been filed, your lawyer will work to build a strong case to show the court you entered a plea without fully understanding the conditions of the plea.

At the hearing, your attorney will present the case in a manner to convince the judge you have “good cause” to withdrawal your plea, then:

  • If your motion to withdraw plea is denied, the judge will proceed to sentencing;
  • If your motion to withdraw plea is granted, your case will reopen, and you will enter a not guilty plea and the case will start over at the arraignment.

It's important to make note here that if you decide to file a motion to withdrawal your guilty or no-contest plea, it means any plea bargain that you were offered by the Los Angeles County prosecutor is no longer valid.

Can You Withdraw Your Plea After Being Convicted?

If you have already been convicted and sentenced, withdrawing a guilty plea becomes a much more complex process. However, there are some options to challenge your initial plea.

It would typically require submitting a petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus or a petition under California Penal Code Section 1473.7, a motion to vacate a conviction or sentence.

The purpose of the habeas corpus is to get a conviction overturned because there was something improper about the legal process or your trial based on new evidence.

This is a complicated process. Call our Los Angeles criminal defense law firm for more information. See related information: Appeals.

Call a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you believe you accidentally or unknowingly entered a guilty plea and want to withdraw that plea, you need to consult with a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney at Eisner Gorin LLP.

Our law firm has decades of combined experience and knows how to effectively withdraw guilty and no-contest pleas for our clients. If you had a previous criminal lawyer represent you, and you already pleaded guilty to a criminal offense, contact our office to review your case.

If you have any doubts that your guilty plea was in your best interest, contact our law firm at 877-781-1570. Eisner Gorin LLP 1875 Century Park East #705 Los Angeles, CA 90067 310-328-3776 

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About the Author

Alan Eisner

Alan Eisner  Van Nuys, California (818) 781-1570 (818) 788-5033 Email Me  Alan Eisner has practiced criminal law for over 28 years in Los Angeles County . Mr Eisner is a Certified Specialist in Criminal Law. (The California State Bar's Board of Legal Specialization has designated Mr. Eisner as a...

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