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Withdrawing a Guilty Plea

February 28th, 2014 at 12:29 pm

criminal hearing, homicide, murder, Illinois criminal defense lawyer, guilty pleaThe Chicago Tribune recently ran an article about a defendant who withdrew his guilty plea in connection with a murder charge. The 22-year-old man, from Aurora, had pled guilty to murdering a woman in October of 2005, when he was just 14 years old.

 Appellate Court Decision

The hearing came in light of last year’s appellate court decision, which stated that the defendant’s 2009 guilty plea was invalid, as it provided for a 45-year minimum sentence, and not the 35-year sentence he should have received as the result of entering a plea to first-degree murder. The Illinois Supreme Court declined to hear the case when county prosecutors appealed the appellate court’s decision.

 New Criminal Process

There was a short court hearing on February 11th, which served to reset the criminal process against the defendant in light of the appellate court opinion allowing him to withdraw his plea. It was the first court hearing since the decision.

 Case Background

The defendant’s current charges stem from the murder of an Aurora woman during a home invasion on October 31, 2005. Her body was discovered by law enforcement two months later in Batavia Township. The Defendant, who is a Sudanese immigrant and had a significant juvenile record prior to this incident, was originally arrested for the murder in 2007. When he pled guilty in 2009, he almost immediately tried to withdraw his plea.

 Illinois Law Regarding Withdrawing a Guilty Plea

According to the law in Illinois, certain procedural and legislative requirements have to be met in order for a defendant in a criminal case to  withdraw a guilty plea. A motion to withdraw a guilty plea must be filed within 30 days of the date it is entered. This time limit must be met in order for a judge to even consider hearing the motion.

If the Judge agrees to hear the motion, the defendant must show that the guilty plea was not made knowingly, intelligently, or voluntarily. This is usually difficult to do, as criminal procedure usually requires the defendant to be fully informed of the rights he or she is waiving as the result of pleading guilty and the consequences of doing so. Established case law has stated that guilty pleas will not be withdrawn unless it is necessary to correct a manifest injustice.  Therefore, it is usually exceedingly difficult to successfully withdraw a guilty plea once it is entered.

All that being said, while it is difficult to withdraw a guilty plea, it is not impossible, as the case previously mentioned demonstrates. An experienced Illinois criminal defense attorney can advise you of your rights and likelihood for success in light of the facts of your particular case. If you or someone you know is charged with a crime in the state of Illinois, contact us today.

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