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Allowing a Defendant to Withdraw a Guilty Plea

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To prevail on this argument, defense counsel must know Ohio Criminal Rule 32.1, State v. Xie and the "9 Blakemore Factors" (Blakemore v. Blakemore, 5 Ohio St.3d 217 (1983)). Criminal Rule 32.1 states that a defendant may move to withdraw a guilty or no contest plea before sentence is imposed and the trial judge should freely grant such a motion. However, Ohio case law is clear that defendants do not have an absolute right to withdraw previously entered guilty pleas. However, the issue is what happens when a judge says “No” and refused to permit the defendant to withdraw the guilty plea and moves right into sentencing?

The trial lawyer must be aware that the only recourse now is to prove that the trial judge abused their discretion in denying the motion to withdraw the guilty plea. The trial lawyer must know, in advance, the 9 Blakemore Factors.

  1. Would the State be prejudiced if the plea were vacated?
  2. Is the defendant represented by highly competent counsel?
  3. What was the extent of the Criminal Rule 11 Change of Plea hearing?
  4. Was there a full hearing on the Criminal Rule 32.1 Motion?
  5. Did the trial judge give full and fair consideration to the motion?
  6. Was the motion made within a reasonable time?
  7. Does the motion set for specific reasons?
  8. Did the defendant understand the nature of the charges and possible penalties?
  9. Is there a chance the defendant is not guilty or has a defense?
Reviewing and understanding State v. Xie is an important task for any defense attorney to undertake in preparation for a case, as it is a prosecutor’s “go to” case when attempting to fight against the potential withdrawal.