Can You Appeal a Guilty Plea in Texas?

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Guilty pleas have become prevalent in Texas criminal courts in recent years. Most guilty pleas are the result of agreements between prosecutors and defense attorneys. A criminal defense lawyer may recommend their defendant to accept a guilty plea to reduce or drop the charges. But can you appeal a guilty plea in Texas?

In some cases, yes, it may be possible to appeal a guilty plea. However, many plea bargains are not appealable if they were accepted knowingly and voluntarily. If you are considering appealing your guilty plea, contact a Waco criminal attorney to discuss your options.

What is a Plea Bargain?

A plea bargain is an agreement in criminal cases between the prosecutor and defendant (the person accused of a crime). Plea bargains typically involve the defendant’s agreement to plead guilty or no contest in exchange for dropping or reducing charges.

A common type of plea bargain is known as an “open plea.” This type of plea means that the defendant is pleading guilty to an offense without receiving any promises from the prosecutor regarding their sentencing. When accepting an open plea, the defendant assumes the risk of receiving the maximum penalties imposed by Texas law.

When Can You Appeal a Guilty Plea in Texas?

Guilty pleas are not appealable in all criminal cases. However, you may have grounds to appeal your guilty plea in Texas under the following circumstances:

  • Your defense attorney improperly advised you on the plea bargain;

  • You did not understand the consequences of accepting a plea bargain when pleading guilty or no contest;

  • You were induced or coerced to enter the plea bargain;

  • You had impaired judgment or lacked mental capacity when entering the plea;

  • There were technical issues with your plea bargain (e.g., the court did not determine that there was a factual basis for the plea); and

  • The court clerk made a mistake.

If you need assistance with appealing your guilty plea in Texas, contact a skilled criminal defense attorney to discuss your particular situation and determine if you can appeal a guilty plea.

Can Your Plea Deal Be Overruled by a Judge in Texas?

Not all plea agreements are honored by judges in Texas. Judges in criminal courts have the authority to either accept or reject plea deals. While the vast majority of plea deals are accepted by judges, a judge may overrule a plea deal.

Often, judges overrule plea deals in high-profile cases when facing pressure from the general public and the victim of the defendant’s criminal conduct. Since there is a possibility that your plea bargain may be rejected, it is advisable to be represented by a skilled criminal lawyer to help you understand your options.

Can You Withdraw Your Guilty Plea After Sentencing?

In many cases, it is extremely difficult – or even impossible – to withdraw a guilty plea after sentencing. However, if a defendant has an experienced criminal defense attorney on their side, they may be able to ask a judge to set aside a conviction to withdraw the guilty plea.

A judge may allow a defendant to withdraw their guilty plea after sentencing if doing so is necessary to correct an apparent injustice. Generally, judges allow guilty plea withdrawals after sentencing if any of the following is true:

  • The defendant lacked the mental capacity to plead guilty (e.g., they were impaired by alcohol or drugs or had mental issues at the time of pleading);

  • The defendant’s lawyer failed to clearly warn them of the consequences of the plea deal;

  • The defendant’s lawyer entered a guilty plea without consent from their client;

  • The defendant’s constitutional rights were violated when entering the plea;

  • The defendant was intimidated or coerced to enter the plea; or

  • New evidence indicating the defendant’s innocence has appeared after sentencing.

How Can You File a Motion to Withdraw a Guilty Plea After Sentencing?

If you want to withdraw your guilty plea after sentencing, your criminal lawyer will help you prepare a motion of withdrawal of plea and file with the court. Your attorney will also help you gather the necessary evidence to establish grounds for the withdrawal.

If you can show a fair and just reason for withdrawing your guilty plea after sentencing, a judge is likely to accept your motion to withdraw the plea. If you wish to file a motion to withdraw a guilty plea after sentencing, it is essential to act as quickly as possible. Typically, there is limited time to file the motion.

What Problems May Arise When Entering a Plea?

While pleading guilty or no contest to drop or reduce the charges may seem like a straightforward process, problems may arise when entering the plea in Texas.

That is why it is crucial to have a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer carefully review your plea bargain before entering the plea. Your lawyer will help you consider both the benefits and drawbacks of entering a plea in your specific case.

First and foremost, you forfeit your right to a jury trial by pleading guilty, not to mention that a guilty plea almost always results in a conviction. You should consider these and many other things before entering a plea in Texas.

Your criminal defense lawyer will help you understand all of the options available in your case and determine whether or not asserting a defense and taking your case to trial would be a better alternative to entering a plea.

Consult with an Experienced Criminal Attorney

If you are facing a criminal conviction, you need to retain a skilled and competent criminal defense attorney who can help you protect your rights and freedom. If you have already entered a plea, an attorney may be able to help you appeal your guilty plea. If you have been charged with a crime, it is in your best interests to retain a knowledgeable criminal lawyer as soon as possible.

When you have our lawyer at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard representing your interests, you can be certain that your case is in good hands. Discuss your options with our attorneys by calling (254) 220-4225.
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