Can You Appeal a Conviction if You Plead Guilty?

Posted on Wednesday, January 29th, 2020 at 7:47 am    

Can You Appeal a Conviction if You Plead Guilty?

Most criminal cases end when the accused enters a negotiated guilty plea to specific charges. Unfortunately, many people who are completely innocent of wrongdoing end up pleading guilty because they don’t believe they can prove their innocence in court.

However, if you or a loved one pled guilty to a crime despite being innocent, the fight is not necessarily over. You can still file an appeal after a guilty plea, but you will need to demonstrate that the plea itself was not “knowing, voluntary, and intelligent.”

The window for filing an appeal is very short, and there are few exceptions. For this reason, if you are considering an appeal, you need to act immediately. Your lawyer will only have a few weeks to review your case file and show cause to file an appeal after a guilty plea.

With extensive appeals experience and a record of overturning unjust convictions, at Spolin Law P.C., we are ready to help you file an appeal today. Call us at (310) 424-5816 for a free consultation about your case.

Appeal Options After a Guilty Plea

In most cases, a defendant will enter a plea of guilty after reaching an agreement with the prosecutor. This plea agreement will usually contain provisions waiving your right to appeal on certain issues.

The provisions are binding, but in some exceptional cases a judge may be willing to allow an appeal to proceed even if you’ve waived your right to do so.

In general, an appeal filed after a guilty plea might raise the following:

  • The defendant was lied to about the consequences of the plea by his lawyer.
  • The defendant was under mental impairment when he/she took the plea.
  • The defendant was not informed of certain rights by the court.
  • There were other similar issues that relate to the validity of the plea itself.

It’s important to note that you cannot present new evidence in an appeal. The point of an appeal is for the appeals court to check that the trial court gave you a fair proceeding based on the evidence available at the time. Nor can you challenge a guilty plea conviction after based on an improper suppression of evidence, police or prosecutorial misconduct, or if a harsh sentence was issued.

So if you pleaded guilty to a crime, and then later learn of some new exculpatory evidence, your best option may be to file a writ of habeas corpus.

New California Laws Can Reduce Sentences after a Guilty Plea

Recent changes to California law make it easier for people to obtain sentence reductions after a guilty plea. These do not involve overturning the case but, rather, involve asking for a reduced sentence based on a new law or based on the behavior of the client after conviction.

Senate Bill 1437 changed the state’s definition of felony murder, so that only a major participant in the underlying felony can be convicted of murder for a death that resulted from that felony. The bill specifically allows people who pleaded guilty to receive a reduction or cancellation of their felony murder sentence.

Another law, Senate Bill 2942 actually allows you to by-pass the appeals process to obtain a modification or cancellation of your sentence. This law gives District Attorneys the possibility of requesting a resentencing hearing if they believe your sentence doesn’t serve the interests of justice. Additionally, you may file a petition to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and request a resentencing.

How a California Appeals Lawyer Can Help

If you felt compelled to plead guilty to a crime that you did not commit or that you entered an invalid guilty plea, you may still have options. California law gives you the option of withdrawing your guilty plea, appealing your conviction, pursuing a writ of habeas corpus, or petitioning the CDCR for a resentencing hearing. Regardless of what remedy best applies to your case, the assistance of an experienced appeals lawyer will be essential.

For a free consultation about your options after pleading guilty to a crime, call Spolin Law P.C. today at (310) 424-5816 for a free consultation.