Challenging a Guilty Plea

by Rick Wetzel on January 6, 2011

What can a criminal appeals lawyer do to help you if you pled guilty to the accusation against you?  As with most questions of law, the answer depends on the facts.  A Texas criminal appeals lawyer can help you determine if you have legitimate grounds to challenge your guilty plea.

Constitutional Requirements

In order to pass constitutional scrutiny, a plea of guilty must be knowing and voluntary.  A plea of guilty is not valid if it is made as a result of ineffective assistance of counsel.  The constitutional validity of a guilty plea made upon the advice of counsel depends on whether counsel’s performance was reasonably competent and provided a defendant effective representation during the particular proceeding.  The accused is usually required to show he would have gone to trial rather than pled guilty if he had not been misled by his lawyer.

What went wrong?

If a Texas criminal lawyer advises a defendant to plead guilty simply because he is unprepared for trial the guilty plea is involuntary.  The lack of preparation can be as to both legal and factual matters which would have benefited the accused if he had gone to trial rather than pled guilty.  Erroneous advice as to the admissibility of evidence can render a plea of guilty involuntary.  Promises or threats concerning a sentence, community supervision, or parole can make the plea of guilty involuntary.

Is there a remedy?

Most guilty pleas result from plea bargains with no right to a criminal appeal.  An experienced criminal appeals lawyer most commonly will use the remedy of habeas corpus to challenge the voluntariness of guilty pleas.  Relief may be sought in both state and federal court by the appeals lawyer.

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  3. Was The Witness An Accomplice? Maybe Not.

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