Can you appeal from a guilty plea?

Sometimes after a defendant pleads guilty, either with or without a plea bargain, they have "buyer's remorse" and want to change their mind. Often times this is because they are dissatisfied with the sentence imposed by the Court, or they have a change of heart in giving up their right to challenge their case through trial.

Anyone convicted of a criminal offense in South Carolina has a right to an appeal. This is regardless if their conviction was the result of a guilty plea or after a trial. Defendants have ten days after Court to file their appeal.

In an appeal you are asking a higher Court to examine the decision of the lower court for legal errors. One difficulty when appealing a guilty plea is that as long as the original court sentenced in the range provided for by the statute there will not be any legal error for the appeals court to consider. For this reasons our appellate rules require that at the time an appeal from a guilty plea is filed the legal grounds or basis for the appeal be specified. If this is not done the appeal can be automatically dismissed.

Beyond the appeal there are other options which may be able to assist a defendant after an unfavorable sentencing hearing. Options to be considered include:

1. Making a motion with the sentencing court to reduce or modify the sentence (must be done within ten days)
2. Making a motion with the sentencing court to vacate or set aside the guilty plea (must be done within ten days)
3. Filing for post-conviction relief (must be done within one year)


If you have a case regarding appealing or voiding a guilty plea in South Carolina contact the Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC, at 1-888-301-6004. Our office is located in Lexington, South Carolina. There is no cost of obligation for your first meeting with our office.

Categories: Criminal Law & Policy

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