When Can You Withdraw a Guilty Plea in MN?
A defendant in a Minnesota criminal case has no absolute right to withdraw a guilty plea. The Minnesota Rules of Criminal Procedure allow for the withdrawal of a guilty plea in two different situations. In the first, a judge may grant the request either before or after sentencing “if the withdrawal is necessary to correct a manifest injustice.” A manifest injustice occurs when a guilty plea is invalid. A guilty plea is considered invalid if it is not voluntary, accurate, or intelligent. In the second situation, a judge may grant a motion to withdraw a guilty plea “if it is fair and just to do so.” Although the second standard is less demanding, it doesn’t mean that a guilty plea can be withdraw for just any reason.
In order for a guilty plea to be intelligent, a defendant must understand the nature of the charges, the rights a person waives by pleading guilty, and the potential sentence resulting from the conviction. In a misdemeanor case, the rules require that a defendant be questioned by either the judge or defense counsel about the following: (a) the nature of the criminal charge and when and where it took place; (b) the maximum possible sentence a judge could impose on conviction; (c) the possibility for deportation for persons who are not citizens; (d) the right to counsel; (e) all of the trial rights; and (f) whether or not the defendant believes he or she committed the crime charged. This requirement can be satisfied if the judge read a group advisory and then asked each defendant if he or she heard and understood the advisory. The requirement is also satisfied if the defendant signs a petition to enter a guilty plea.
If the court or counsel failed to question you regarding the above matters, you may have a case for withdrawing your guilty plea on the grounds that the plea was not intelligent. If you were represented by counsel, strict compliance with the above rule is not required since the court will presume that your attorney advised you of your rights. If you were unrepresented by counsel and did not sign a petition to enter a guilty plea, you may have a strong case if the court failed to inform you of your trial rights.
A transcript of the guilty plea hearing will need to be requested and reviewed by a Minnesota criminal defense attorney who has experience in filing motions to withdraw guilty pleas. The district court file will also need to be reviewed by a criminal defense attorney. Remember, even if the guilty plea was intelligent, you may still be able to withdraw the plea on the grounds that it was not accurate or voluntary. In addition, the guilty plea can be withdrawn before sentencing “if it is fair and just to do so.” Call Minneapolis criminal defense attorney Robert J. Shane now for a free phone consultation to determine if you can withdraw your guilty plea and protect your future.