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Withdrawing a Guilty or No-Contest Plea in a Las Vegas Court


In some situations, scoring a dismissal or a not-guilty verdict for your Las Vegas criminal charges can be an uphill battle. You may be forced to enter a plea deal to avoid getting the full brunt of penalties related to your case. However, there may be instances where you’d prefer to get an actual dismissal after all, so you wish to revoke your original plea deal.

Nevada law actually allows a defendant to withdraw a guilty plea for their charges. However, this only works under certain circumstances. Let’s look further into withdrawing a guilty or no-contest plea in a Las Vegas court.

Why Withdraw?

A motion to withdraw an earlier plea of guilt or no-contest can be due to a variety of reasons. That is, the aim may not only be to get a better outcome for a case. Common reasons include:

  • incompetence on the part of the defense attorney
  • perceived failure to fully investigate the case or provide exonerating evidence
  • defendant was not psychologically competent to stand trial when the plea was made
  • constitutional issues regarding a defendant’s rights
  • plea entered without consent, or was entered due to coercion

When to Submit the Motion

Unlike other legal requests, a defendant can submit a motion to withdraw their earlier plea at any time. However, it has a higher chance of being accepted by the court if it is made before the judgment is laid down. If the plea was made after the verdict was reached, the court will assume that the defendant is simply looking for a lighter sentence, and thus consider the motion as an appeal instead.

The window for submitting this motion can be brief or indefinite, depending on the circumstances of the case. Minor cases often offer little time to withdraw a plea because they are often decided on right during the plea deal hearing. In contrast, more severe crimes can have a longer gap between the plea hearing and the sentencing, which provides an opportunity for the defendant to make a compelling motion to withdraw. 

Factors to Consider

The defendant isn’t the only one to consider in a plea withdrawal motion. The judge also has matters to look into before they can deny or approve such a motion. The judge may not grant the motion if:

  • The defendant unnecessarily delayed their submission. That is, the belated submission could not be justified properly in court
  • The withdrawal prejudices the prosecution. That is, the motion is meant to adversely affect the prosecution or the plaintiff rather than benefit the defendant

The defendant will have to build a solid case for their plea if they wish to avoid these suspicions during the plea hearing.

The motion to withdraw guilty or no-contest pleas provide a good avenue to get a better outcome for your case. However, you have to prepare your plea’s case properly if you want to increase your chances of getting it approved. Consult your defense attorney for more information.

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