Whether or not a person in Florida can withdraw (or take back) their plea in any criminal case, depends in large part on two factors: (1) the timing of your motion to withdraw the plea; and (2) the presiding judge.The TimingWhen You May Withdraw a PleaThere are two times in which a person may withdraw a plea – before sentencing and after sentencing.\u00a0 Withdrawing a plea before sentencing is usually much easier to accomplish because the standard is lower.\u00a0 If you want to withdraw a plea after sentencing, you may have a much harder time and a lower success rate.Withdrawing the Plea Before SentencingFlorida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.170(f) states that \u201cthe Court may at its discretion, and shall on good cause, at any time before a sentence, permit a plea of guilty or no contest to be withdrawn…\u201d\u00a0 Case law holds that this rule is to be construed liberally in early in favor of defendant because the law favors trial on the merits.\u00a0 Basically what that means is that courts are encouraged to try to case over accepting pleas.\u00a0 So if a person wants to withdraw their plea and go to trial, the court should allow it because it is in the interest of justice.\u00a0 The Supreme Court of Florida even provides guidance that \u201ctrial courts are encouraged to liberally grant motions made before sentencing.\u201d\u00a0 See\u00a0State v. Partlow, 840 So. 2d 1040, 1044-45 (Fla. 2003) (Cantero, J., concurring).So how do you withdraw your plea?\u00a0 Just say so on the record.\u00a0 Motions to withdraw pleas before sentencing do not have to be written!\u00a0 The court may then simply grant your motion or it may require more.\u00a0 If the court requires more, it may review the plea that you did previously to see if your motion is sufficient.\u00a0 If the court finds competent substantial evidence that the court did nothing wrong, it may deny your motion!\u00a0 That is one reason it is advisable to speak with an attorney experienced in these types of motions.\u00a0 The record the court has must conclusively refute the allegations in your motion, otherwise, the court must hold an evidentiary hearing OR accept the allegations as true.\u00a0 If an evidentiary hearing is held, you will have to demonstrate (or prove) that the plea was made involuntarily to the Judge.\u00a0 The argument of an attorney is not proof and more will be needed if you want to win your motion.To get the motion granted, you have to establish \u201cgood cause\u201d by showing that the plea was involuntary because it was entered under mental weakness, mistake, surprise, misapprehension, fear, promise, or other circumstances that affect the defendant\u2019s rights.\u00a0 See\u00a0Yesnes v. State, 440 So.2d 628, 634 (Fla. 1st\u00a0DCA 1983).\u00a0 If you can do this, the court has no discretion and MUST grant your motion to withdraw plea.\u00a0 Examples of involuntary pleas include a defendant not understanding the details of the plea agreement, taking a plea out of fear that if they do not accept they will receive a much harsher sentence, and being improperly pressured or coerced into accepting a plea.\u00a0 Another basis for good cause can be your relying on your attorney\u2019s mistaken advice.Claims of InnocenceClaims of innocence or fear of receiving a harsher sentence if you lose at trial are not enough.\u00a0 Informed, strategic decisions to plead are considered voluntary pleas.Newly Discovered EvidenceMost people are surprised to hear that newly discovered evidence alone is NOT sufficient to warrant the withdrawal of a plea of guilty or no contest.\u00a0 This is because newly found evidence does not relate to the grounds upon which a plea is entered.\u00a0 The case that talks about this point in more detail is Angela M. Berry, Appellant, v. State of Florida, Appellee. 4th District. Case No. 4D11-1954.\u00a0January 30, 2013.If your motion is denied, you can appeal that the court abused its discretion.Withdrawing the Plea After SentencingTrying the withdraw your plea after sentencing is a much tougher proposition and is governed by Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.170(l).\u00a0 The burden is raised and you only have thirty (30) days to file a written motion.Once a sentence has been imposed, you must demonstrate a manifest injustice that requires correction.\u00a0 See Lopez v. State 536 So.2d 226, 229 (Fla. 1988).\u00a0 Involuntariness of the plea is an example of sufficient grounds – so is lack of subject matter jurisdiction and violations of the plea agreement. Claiming the plea was not voluntary is the most common.Pleas are not voluntary if you do not know of the direct consequences of your plea.\u00a0 \u201cDirect consequences\u201d are length of time in prison, probation, conditions of probation and so on – those having a \u201cdefinite, immediate, and largely automatic effect on the range of the defendant’s punishment.\u201d\u201cCollateral consequences\u201d do not affect the \u201crange\u201d of the punishment.\u00a0 Having to register as a sex offender or deportation from the United States are collateral consequences and are not enough to say that your plea was made involuntarily.Rule 3.170(l) \u2013 the rule that governs withdrawing a plea after you\u2019ve been sentenced – allows withdrawal of a plea only on the limited grounds listed in Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.140(b).\u00a0 Read up on that rule for more information!FinalityAnother concern that judges (and lawyers) have is finality in criminal cases.\u00a0 Think about it.\u00a0 If it were easy to withdraw pleas after sentencing, the courts would be slammed with defendants wanting to undo their pleas.\u00a0 Whether you are a defendant in a criminal case or a victim, you want finality to the case.\u00a0 Otherwise, our entire system of justice would be undermined and faith lost.Note: Juveniles seeking to challenge the voluntariness of a plea may do so by filing a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the circuit court. \u00a0See T.G., 800 So. 2d at 213; D.E.R. v. State, 993 So. 2d 1030 (Fla. 2d DCA 2008); J.M.B., 750 So. 2d at 655.\u00a0 This is another option that is available to juveniles in lieu of filing a motion to withdraw plea.The JudgeNo judge is going to be excited at the idea that you have entered a plea and now want to take it back. \u00a0Asking to take back a plea means that you wasted the judge’s time when you entered it. \u00a0However, you don’t have to worry about your withdrawal of the plea coming out at trial. \u00a0The prosecutors cannot use the fact that you entered a plea and then revoked or withdrew it at any subsequent trial. \u00a0Neither the judge nor the prosecutor are supposed to hold this against you – and they certainly cannot ask a jury to do so either.The most efficient way to get a plea withdrawn is to get the judge on board.\u00a0 Getting the Judge on board can be accomplished in a variety of ways.\u00a0 If your defense attorney has a good relationship with the prosecutor and the prosecutor is on board with withdrawing the plea, that should be made known to the judge. \u00a0It might make their decision to grant your motion easier. \u00a0On the other hand, if the Judge feels (on his or her own) that the plea should be withdrawn and the case taken to trial, that makes it simpler as well as there won\u2019t necessarily need to be an evidentiary hearing or long argument on the matter.If you have a tough judge, your only option may be to appeal him or her when the motion is denied. \u00a0The tough part here is that, unless the judge makes some procedural error, the appellate court may be inclined to side with the trial judge UNLESS you can show that the judge abused his or her discretion.ConclusionRemember the old saying \u201cBe careful what you wish for \u2013 you just might get it!\u201d\u00a0 Getting a plea withdrawn can be a good thing.\u00a0 However, if you get what you want and the plea is withdrawn, the sentence you may ultimately received may be far worse that the one you had before you withdrew your plea. \u00a0Proceed with caution.