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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 27425
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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My son was just convicted on 2 federal charges dealing with

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My son was just convicted on 2 federal charges dealing with helping people pass polygraph test. All the news reports and blogs have supported him 95-98% and don't think he should have plead guilty. He was coerced by a threat of of 25- 30 yrs. Most articles i have read have expressed this is in clear violation of his first admendment rights. The story gets deeper as he cooperated with the

Hello Virginia,

It is very difficult to get a plea back once it has been taken. That's because judges do everything in their power to make that plea airtight. They do not allow a plea to go through unless they first question a defendant on the record about whether they really want it, whether they are pleading guilty voluntarily, and whether they are pleading guilty because they are actually guilty, among other things. That record gets memorialized, as all court records do, by the court reporter, and his own words can be used as a basis to deny his petition to get his plea back.

The Federal government is noted for the thoroughness of their investigations. They take the time to line up all their ducks in a row before making any arrests in a case, and they do not bring charges that they do not believe they can win. As a result they win a staggering 98-99% of their cases, versus the 50-60% that state prosecutors win at trial. So it's not unreasonable for any defendant to cut his losses and to take a plea when facing a Federal case, nor does it have to be unreasonable for someone to tell him it's the safest way for him to proceed. Pleas are always, by definition, the safest way to go because you know in advance what you're going to get for it. Finally, it's required of every his lawyer to advise a defendant completely of the ups and down sides of every plea possibility, including what the risk would be if he loses the trial and gets convicted, so that a defendant can make a fully informed decision about his case.

However, if your son regrets his choice and wishes to try to reverse his plea and to face his original charges again and go to trial on them after all, you have to get onto that quickly. You would need to have a post conviction attorney petition or file a notice of appeal, and the window of opportunity to be able to do this is a fairly short one. A notice of appeal has got to be filed within 30 days of the sentence in order to keep all of the grounds for an appeal open. After that point, there are only very few grounds for an appeal still available, most of them highly technical and probably inapplicable here.

He should ask his lawyer to file the notice and get the file turned over to an Appellate defender. As he's incarcerated he may now qualify for free representation. But one way or another, he should get this ball rolling fast, if it's the way he wants to go.

Best of luck to you and to your son.

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