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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 27056
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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at my arraignment my public defender had me plead guilty on

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at my arraignment my public defender had me plead guilty on a felony grand larceny charge to get a lesser charge (gross misd) now in 2 weeks I go for sentencing. I did NOT commit this crime. I told the PD I am going NOT Guilty all the way. He convinced me to plead guilty under the ALFROD law. I am so upset that he didnt help me fight this case I AM INNOCENT. What can I do now, do I have any recourse?
Hello Jacustomer,

It's very hard to get a plea back once you have taken one because usually a judge will not let you take a plea in the first place unless he puts on the record enough information for him to know for sure that you understood your rights at the time of the taking of the plea and that you pled voluntarily. Your answers to his questions are on the record and can be used against you when you try to say othewise later on.

This looks like a "take this misdemeanor or we'll indict" kind of offer. It is your lawyer's obligation to convey every offer. It does not mean that he or she cares whether you take it or not, but they are obligated to convey and explain all offers to you and give you the up and down sides of it. Many clients think their lawyers are pushing pleas, and no doubt some may be, but they all must make sure you understand every deal conveyed. And if a lawyer thinks the deal is a good one based on the facts and circumstances of your case, he or she should tell you so in no uncertain terms. That's his/her job.

So you've got a gross misdemeanor, and because you went forward with an Alford plea, you did not admit your guilt at all. You simply conceded that you believe the state could prove this charge against you. If that isn't sitting well with you, keep in mind that if the judge does let you take your plea back, the reduction disappears, as it was for purposes of a disposition only. You would be fighting the original felony and facing prison time if convicted.

If you're sure that you want your plea back, what you need to do is let the judge know on your sentencing date exactly what you said here -- that your lawyer pushed you into a disposition while, in fact, you did nothing wrong. Tell him you want your plea back so that you can go to trial on the case.

Judges have the power to give you your plea back, but like I said, they do not have to. What you must do is ask for it and have a legal reason (other than "buyer's regret") to vacate your plea. In this case, it's your lawyer's ineffective assistance and his coercive tactics with you. If the judge agrees that you were forced against your will, he will grant your application. If not, whether he denied it improperly could be taken up on appeal. So you would want your lawyer to promptly file a notice of appeal if you are convicted of this after all.

Good luck!
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