I was not made aware that I was entering a plea deal. Can I still make a motion for a finding of factual innocence?
Los Angeles, CA |
I didn't change my plea from not guilty, I was just told my case would be dismissed if I took anger mnagement classes, so I did it. But I really didn't do what I was accused of and want to clear my name. Can I still do the motion?
It seems that you did not admit guilt based upon what you are telling us. You can still file the motion, but I suggest you hire an attorney do do so. A finding of factual innocence is not easy to come by and requires a mini-trial about the facts. It would easily overwhelm most people. In addition, you get one chance to prove your case.
Hire an attorney and take it from there.
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There is probably a record, either of the court reporter taking your plea of a tape recording, where the judge asked you a bunch of questions. You may not have realized you were entering a change of plea. You should talk to a lawyer about the specific details of exactly what happened. Its probably a hard motion to win but worth checking.
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It sounds like maybe there was a "deferred prosecution" in your case. Meaning that the District Attorney agreed to defer prosecution - put the case on hold - while you complete anger management classes. With a deferred prosecution, you return to court on a certain date, and if you have completed the requirements - (anger management classes in your case) and haven't been arrested for anything in the interim - the District Attorney will agree that the case may be dismissed, without a guilty plea or a conviction. A Motion for a Finding of Factual Innocence is very difficult to win. Most of the time, it involves showing that there was an error involving mistaken identity when you were arrested. But not always - you should speak to a local criminal defense attorney.
I'm assuming you are talking about a declaration of factual innocence or petition to seal and destroy arrest records under California Penal Code Section 851.8. Typically in order to qualify you must have been arrested but the prosecutor never filed criminal charges or had your case dismissed in court or you were acquitted in trial by a jury. Give me a call and I'll be more than happy to go over it with you.
I agree with the attorneys above, findings of factual innocence are very hard to come by as are motions to withdraw pleas, which may be another option.
Did your attorney advise you that you were changing your plea or tell you to plead either "guilty" or "no contest?" Were you advised of rights you were waiving (ie the right to a trial, the right to a jury, the right to have the prosecution prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, the right to a speedy trial, the right to cross examine witnesses and call witnesses on your behalf...) by both your attorney and the judge? Judges give these advisements as part of the plea taking ceremony. The advisements will be checked off on your minute order as they are given. If there is a problem with the plea taking ceremony or your attorney offered ineffective assistance of counsel, withdrawing your plea may be a possibility, but again, it is not commonly granted because the bar is set very high.
You need to speak with an attorney to determine what really happened in your case and whether or not you should file a motion to withdraw your plea.