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FAQ: Can I Back Out of A Plea Bargain?

Q: I used the public defender after I got arrested. I accepted a plea deal that he got me so that I could get out of jail. I think its a bad deal, is there anything I can do now?

A: This is such a common question. Unfortunately, in most cases, once you plead guilty in front of a judge, there usually isn’t anything we can do. If you go to lawyer question sites like, you will see that almost half the questions are people who believe the public defender got them a raw deal. There are two painfully obvious solutions to this problem:

  • Hire private counsel in the first place. Just because there is a government program available to you does not mean it is in your best interests to take advantage of it. Sometimes the difference between public defender and private representation can be prison time, loss of your job, or felon status. Think about your life. Private attorneys are often very affordable.
  • Hire an attorney to try and convince the court to allow you to withdraw your guilty plea. Generally, we have to show that your lawyer misinformed you or mislead you in a way that is fundamentally unfair. This is a very high bar. It can be done, but in very few circumstances. It is important to have a private attorney’s opinion up front to avoid this situation.