Accepting a plea deal may seem like a good idea at the time. Your attorney thought so, and it made sense to you.

Later, you have doubts. The deal means that you have a criminal record and a sentence that, in hindsight, seems like it does not fit your crime. The odds are long, yet an appeal is possible.

What works against you when appealing a plea deal

When you accept a plea deal, you give away your right to an appeal. You are making a bargain with the court. You plead guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for a lighter sentence.

More than 90% of criminal cases end with plea deals. Judges like them because they help clear out their backlog of cases, and prosecutors like them because they boost their conviction rates. In general, plea deals also are quicker and less expensive than trials.

For these reasons, judges and prosecutors fight defendants who change their minds about plea deals. The U.S. Supreme Court backs them up, ruling that a defendant can waive his or her rights, including the right to appeal a plea deal.

What works for you in appealing a plea deal

The success of your appeal often comes down to your defense attorney’s competence. You have to prove your counsel was ineffective in representing your rights. You can argue that your attorney did not explain:

  • The charges against you
  • The consequences of your plea
  • Your other options

You can also argue that your attorney did not act in good faith. He or she may have shown little interest in mounting a defense. Your lawyer may also have done a poor job investigating your case and evaluating evidence.

What works for preserving your future

The judge, prosecutor and sometimes even your attorney want to put your case in the past and move on. You, however, have your future to consider.

Simply changing your mind about accepting a plea deal is not a good argument. The courts need a solid legal reason to take another look at your case.