When someone is accused of a crime, they have a couple of options for how they want to deal with it. The most well-known way to deal with a legal issue is to go to trial, and that is a perfectly valid option. Also commonly known as the guilty plea, where you work out a deal with the prosecutors, hopefully for a lesser sentence or other benefits to you. However, some defendants who enter a guilty plea will later change their minds about the decision and want a trial after all. In those circumstances, the plaintiff may be wondering whether it is too late to change course.
If you have accepted a guilty plea in a Utah criminal case, you are able to withdraw that plea and request moving on to a trial, but only under some very limited circumstances. You must not know that you entered into the plea or that the plea was not made voluntarily.
For help with your case’s unique needs, call Overson Law’s Ogden, UT criminal defense lawyers at (801) 758-2287 and get a free review of your case.
What is a Guilty Plea, and Why Can it Be Beneficial in Utah?
A guilty plea is an admission of guilt on behalf of the defendant before trial. On its face, this seems like a very bad idea. Not only are you losing out on your right as an American citizen to a fair trial, but you are also doing the prosecution’s job for them. They no longer have to prove that you committed the crime you allegedly did. However, there are a great deal of potential benefits from entering into a guilty plea. Of course, whether or not you should enter into a guilty plea is totally dependent on the unique factors of your case, so it is important to work with our Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyers so that you pick the best path for your situation.
One of the most common reasons that defendants will enter a guilty plea is because of a plea deal offered by the prosecution. Prosecution offices offer plea deals to defendants for many reasons. As previously alluded to, entering a guilty plea does a bit of their job for them. It cuts out a lot of work preparing legal arguments, gathering evidence, and prepping witnesses and experts for a potential trial. Additionally, plea deals often involve an offer to be convicted of a lesser crime than the one you would go to trial for. This is partially a product of common sense. After all, why would you accept a deal where you are guaranteed to be convicted of something you have merely a chance of getting convicted for at trial?
Save Legal Costs
Another benefit of accepting a plea deal is that it can save on legal costs. Trials take quite a while to get going, and every hour spent prepping for a case that is going to go to trial will incur more and more costs to you. A plea deal is a much more streamlined and quick process, so your legal fees will naturally be less than in a case that goes all the way to trial.
Can You Withdraw Guilty Pleas in Utah?
You can withdraw from a guilty plea in Utah, but only under certain circumstances. For most individuals, withdrawing a guilty plea is not an option. The process is detailed under Utah Code § 77-13-6. Defendants can only withdraw guilty pleas if they can prove that they were not freely made or if they can prove that the plea was not made with their knowledge. Additionally, such withdrawal must be made before sentencing commences.
Guilty Plea Alternatives
If you wish to enter into a plea agreement but also want to avoid being locked into a guilty plea, there is an option for you. You can enter a third type of plea called a plea of “no contest.” This is a sort of middle ground between a guilty and not guilty plea. A plea of no contest simply means that you do not contest the charges against you, but it notably is not an admission of guilt. This makes it so that you are able to withdraw the plea if you desire to later down the line.
Is it a Good Idea to Withdraw a Plea in Utah?
Now, whether you can withdraw from a plea deal in Utah is different from whether you should. Withdrawing from a plea deal restores your innocence in the eyes of the law and gives you your right to a trial. However, there are some serious considerations to take into account when thinking about withdrawing from a guilty plea.
One thing to consider is that it will be seen by the prosecution, at least in most circumstances, as a sort of betrayal. When you enter into a plea deal with the prosecution, they are modifying what they are doing in order to try and work with you. True, any prosecutor worth their salt is going to be prepping for trial just in case the deal falls through, but it is very much on the back burner. If you withdraw from the deal. The prosecution office will likely not be very happy about having to change plans, and they will be less likely to offer you any future deals should you change your mind again. Furthermore, the prosecutor may try and fight for a conviction more zealously at trial than they otherwise would have if you were going for a trial from the start.
Talk to Our Utah Criminal Defense Lawyers About Your Case
Overson Law’s Park City, UT criminal defense lawyers can be called at (801) 758-2287 to give free, totally confidential case reviews.