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NEW YORK PLEA AGREEMENTS ARE GENERALLY HARD TO VACATE

bank notebook paperMany individuals contact us after they are already involved in a criminal proceeding. Some of the most common issues that we deal with regarding ongoing criminal cases involve revoking an earlier guilty plea, which may have been provided before the defendant retained a reliable new york criminal defense lawyer. A recent case illustrates how difficult it can be to get rid of an earlier plea agreement.

The defendant faced charges of hindering with the prosecution in the first degree and possession of a weapon in the third degree for providing and concealing a weapon that a codefendant used during a shooting that resulted in a fatality. The night before the defendant’s trial was set to take place, the defendant entered a guilty plea regarding the lesser included offense of hindering the prosecution in the second degree. The defendant later testified that he assisted the co-defendant and believed that the co-defendant engaged in activities that resulted in a second-degree murder. The defendant also waived his right to appeal as part of the plea agreement.

The trial for the co-defendant proceeded and the prosecution offered evidence from the sole witness, which was the victim’s brother. The brother testified that he was at the victim’s apartment along with a number of other individuals when a dispute erupted and the co-defendant shot the victim. Other evidence presented at trial suggested that the brother may not have seen the shooter and was unclear about the events that occurred after the fight broke out. The prosecution later admitted to finding handwritten notes from an earlier interview with the brother suggesting that the brother did not see the co-defendant shoot the victim. The defendant was allowed to cross-examine the brother regarding these notes and attempted to impeach his credibility.

The co-defendant also testified, stating that he did not intend to shoot the victim and instead meant to display his gun to encourage people in the apartment to leave. The co-defendant testified that the victim reached for the gun, causing two men to fall back as the gun discharged accidentally. The gun was never located, but the co-defendant testified that he received it from the defendant. The jury convicted the co-defendant of a misdemeanor count of criminal possession of a weapon and acquitted him of the other charges. Before the co-defendant was sentenced, the defendant moved to withdraw his plea and the court denied the motion. The Appellate Division affirmed this ruling and the defendant appealed.

The Appellate Division affirmed this ruling and the defendant appealed stating that the plea should be withdrawn because it was not made in a voluntary, knowing, and intelligent manner due to his lack of ability to review the prosecutor’s notes, which should have been provided during initial discovery. Second, the defendant alleged that he was innocent of the charges of hindering the prosecution as a result of the co-defendant’s murder charge acquittal. The appellate court first rejected the defendant’s reliance on the missing notes, stating that the content of the notes was not exculpatory in nature and would not have likely changed the defendant’s decision to enter into a plea agreement. The court also rejected the defendant’s second argument, finding that the acquittal only indicates reasonable doubt, not that the co-defendant was innocent. Also, the appellate court noted that the defendant had admitted to assisting the co-defendant with the commission of criminal acts.

If you are facing a criminal investigation or involved in a pending criminal prosecution, the reliable, seasoned, and compassionate homicide, manslaughter, and murder attorneys at Tilem & Associates are prepared to assist you. Although you may think a plea deal is a great way to put this stress behind you, it is critical that you understand the full scope of your rights and understand the different potential outcomes of the matter before you agree to anything. We offer a free consultation to help you learn more about how we can assist you with protecting your rights. Call us now at 1-877-377-8666 or contact us online to get started.

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