Let’s say that you have entered a guilty plea to a felony and the case is headed toward a sentencing proceeding. Under Idaho law, the trial court will order a presentence investigation be completed and a report of that investigation will be sent to your criminal defense lawyer, the court, and the prosecutor. What happens if you change your mind? Suppose that you never committed the crime and only entered the plea to protect someone else? Can you withdraw the guilty plea?

Ordinarily, a guilty plea that has been entered is tough to withdraw, but it can happen. Whether you are permitted to do so will depend on the facts surrounding the entry of the plea. You will likely have to show the court a reason for withdrawal of the plea that implicates a right that was compromised by the entry of the plea. Withdrawal of the plea before the sentencing proceeding requires that you show a "just reason." There is no withdrawal as a matter of right, and the state may defeat your withdrawal by showing prejudice to its case.  In simplest of terms, withdrawal is a matter within the discretion of the court. After sentencing it is even more difficult to withdraw the guilty plea and almost never happens.

So if you want to withdraw a guilty plea you must act quickly and you must demonstrate a just reason for doing so, although that reason does not have to establish the denial of a constitutional right. Call an Idaho criminal defense attorney to get a better handle on this tricky area of the law.