Fans of crime dramas in Louisiana often see criminal cases portrayed in a courtroom with lawyers who are battling each other and witnesses to win over a jury. The reality is that the majority of cases that are criminal in nature end with a guilty plea. Pleading guilty may prevent a drawn-out trial and result in the accused receiving a more lenient sentence. However, sometimes after pleading guilty, an individual changes their mind. An individual who later wishes to withdraw or recant their guilty plea may be able to do so.
Withdrawing a guilty plea before sentencing
An individual who is accused of a crime may work with a lawyer to enter a guilty plea. The judge then has time to accept the terms of the plea agreement or to reject the plea deal, which will be renegotiated by both sides. Before the sentence is accepted and given by the judge, most states allow the accused to withdraw their plea and press forward with a trial.
Recanting a guilty plea after being sentenced
After being sentenced, it is more difficult to withdraw a guilty plea. It is typically only allowed in a few circumstances. These include:
- The defendant not having effective counsel
- The production of evidence that is contrary to the plea
- The plea being forced and not voluntarily given
- The plea being given as a result of an off-the-record promise or threat
Talk to a lawyer before entering a plea
Because it is more difficult to withdraw a plea after sentencing, most professionals recommend that those accused of a crime speak with a criminal defense lawyer. A lawyer might offer counsel or work to negotiate a plea deal that may result in a more lenient sentence.