When Can You Withdraw a Guilty Plea?
In Oklahoma, the withdrawal of a plea of guilty or no contest following sentencing is distinct from a direct appeal or the post-conviction process. This process has strict time limits, and the court expects a precise legal argument on your behalf. It is best to utilize the assistance of an attorney to navigate the process. In Oklahoma, the right to withdraw a plea of guilty or no contest following sentencing stems from a 1940 decision by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals (OCCA) named Harjo v. State. In Harjo, the OCCA recognized the general rule allowing a defendant to withdraw their plea when it reasonably appeared they entered the plea under the wrongful influence of “persons in authority or apparent authority” also pertained to the defendants after sentencing.
A defendant must start by filing a Motion to Withdraw a Guilty Plea to appeal a conviction following a plea of guilty or no contest. In considering such a motion, the court will consider:
- Whether or not you made the plea knowingly.
- Whether or not you entered the plea voluntarily.
- Whether the sentencing court had jurisdiction.
For a defendant to file a Motion to Withdraw Guilty Plea following sentencing, they must have pled guilty or no contest to the crime(s) the court sentenced for. Next, they must file the Motion to Withdraw the Guilty Plea in the district where the conviction and sentence were handed down and must file within 10 days of sentencing. If you fail to file the motion within 10 days of the sentencing date, the court presumes that you have waived your right to do so.
The motion should detail why you did not knowingly enter plea of guilty, was not entered voluntarily, and exactly why you are requesting to withdraw your plea. Following a defendant’s filing of a Motion to Withdraw a Guilty Plea, the trial court will hold a hearing and make a ruling on it within 30 days. The trial court will either approve or deny the Motion. If the motion is approved, you will be allowed to withdraw your guilty plea and start over. Starting over means that you would still face the original charges brought by the State. From that point, you could renegotiate a plea deal with the State or continue to trial.
If the trial court denies your motion, you can appeal that decision to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals (OCCA) through a Petition for Writ of Certiorari. There are two critical deadlines associated with this process:
- Within 10 days of the trial court denying your Motion to Withdraw Guilty Plea, you must file a Notice of Intent to Appeal to the OCCA.
- Within 90 days of the trial court denying your Motion to Withdraw Guilty Plea, you must file The Writ of Certiorari with the OCCA.
Defendants who fail to file their original Motion to Withdraw Guilty Plea within the 10 days may be able to overcome the presumption that they waived that right, though the process is more complicated. A defendant in this situation can file a separate Motion to Withdraw Guilty Plea Out of Time with the trial court after the allotted 10 days. Like before, the trial court will review this Motion and may approve or deny the motion. Unlike before, however, approval at this stage does not automatically afford the defendant the right to withdraw their plea. Instead, an approval under this scenario means the trial court will forward the “out of time” motion to the OCCA for review; it would be the OCCA’s ultimate decision to approve or deny the motion.
Oklahoma Motion to Withdraw Guilty Plea Attorney
As you can see, the timeline and procedures you must follow to withdraw a guilty plea after sentencing in Oklahoma are precise and demanding. Unfortunately, the truth is that many Oklahomans enter a guilty plea because of intense pressure and unfamiliarity with the system, only to find out later that they did so against their own best interest. If you believe that you or a loved one has pled guilty or no contest to a crime that you should not have, it is vital that you speak to an Oklahoma City motion to withdraw guilty plea attorney as soon as possible. We can determine if a motion to withdraw your guilty plea is suitable for you and ensure the process is handled correctly.
For a free consultation call 918-932-2833. You can also submit an email question from the top right corner of this page. We will respond to all inquiries as soon as possible.