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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2008

    Default Can I "Take Back" My Guilty Plea

    My question involves criminal law for the state of: Nj

    My public defender got my shoplifting (under $100) charges downgraded to a municipal ordinance violation. He said I had two options: I could plead guilty to a municipal ordinance violation or he could schedule another few court dates and if the loss prevention who had me arrested didn't show up, then all charges would be dismissed. I was so relieved that I wouldn't have to come back to court that I accepted the guilty to municipal ordinance violation charge without asking questions about fines or community service. I just wanted to get out of there and never return back to court.

    The prosecuter said OK to the downgrade and I was free to go that night. The PD said I would be getting a "letter" in the mail about my service.

    Today, I received this "letter. It turns out I'm going to have to return back to court. I think it's supposed to be when I am notified of what fines I have to pay and the community service I have to do. What a shock because I thought I wouldn't have to go back. The court date is in over a month which means I'll be worrying about it all through winter break.

    Is there any way to ask the judge to "undo" my guilty plea to the municipal ordinance violation? I want to be able to do the second option the PD gave me: to go back to court a few times and if the LPs didn't show up, then I could have my case dismissed. I really thought I wouldn't have to go back to court. Also,I have no idea how big the fines are going to be. All I know is that the max fine in NJ is $1,250 and the most number of days of community service is 90. I'm a college student and can't afford to pay for that amount. I'm okay with doing community service, but the $1,250 is making me sleepless.

    What should I do?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2008

    Default Re: Can I "Take Back" My Guilty Plea

    No you're stuck with the guilty plea. But this is only a formality and going to court isn't that bad. You are probably projecting the whole process of arrest on court.

    It could be you don't have to attend this court date that your PD will represent you (stand in proxy) Check on that first.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2007

    Default Re: Can I "Take Back" My Guilty Plea

    Quote Quoting RYS0212
    View Post
    Is there any way to ask the judge to "undo" my guilty plea to the municipal ordinance violation?
    You need to examine very carefully the pro's and cons'.

    NJ Rules of Criminal Procedure:



    3:21-1. Withdrawal of Plea

    A motion to withdraw a plea of guilty or non vult shall be made before sentencing, but the court may permit it to be made thereafter to correct a manifest injustice.

    The Local rules of court may provide for such Motion also in a more relaxed way???

    You can ask, but a court granting such is rare I would say, except for serious felonies?? Don't take that as gospel, it is just a general comment. I could not find any NJ case law online concerning this.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2007

    Default Re: Can I "Take Back" My Guilty Plea

    At least the uncertainty is gone and it's a formality just to see how much the fines cost.If you can withdraw you plea there a chance the lp person will show up.If it's you 1st time getting trouble they don't normally have you pay the max amount. Maybe talk to lawyer he can guess how much the fine will be. The fine will be for what you plead down to,not the original charge.

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