Generally, the answer is "no" to you being successful for such an appeal. But there are some exceptions. Keep in mind that, very broadly speaking, there are two types of appeals: appeals related to your conviction and appeals related to sentencing. If you plead guilty or accept a plea bargain whereby you plead guilty, it is difficult to successfully appeal your conviction. However, it is less difficult to appeal your sentence. Imagine you plead guilty to a relatively minor offense like simple battery/assault, and the judge sentences you to life in prison. Such a sentence would far exceed what the court is allowed to impose. An appeal should be filed in such a hypothetical. For the remainder of this article, we will focus on circumstances where the guilty plea or the plea bargain might be appealed.
As noted, it is generally difficult to appeal a guilty plea or a plea bargain. With respect to plea bargains, generally, the accused must sign a waiver of appeal as part of the plea bargain. In such circumstances, waivers are valid and enforceable.
One possible avenue of appeal after a guilty plea or plea bargain is a claim of procedural violation. For a guilty plea or plea bargain to be valid in Louisiana, the guilty plea/plea bargain must be voluntary, made with an understanding of the nature of the charges and possible sentencing, and with an understanding of rights being given up. To ensure this, Louisiana criminal court judges must follow certain procedures, including:
Finally, the Louisiana criminal court judge will ask you -- the accused -- personally, in an open court, if your plea is voluntary and not the result of force, threats, or promises apart from a plea agreement.
If the criminal court judge fails to follow these procedures, then a possible appeal is available on the grounds that the guilty plea/plea bargain was not truly informed and voluntary. For example, if the judge fails to advise the accused of the mandatory minimum sentence before accepting a guilty plea, that failure can be raised on appeal to set aside the guilty plea. An appeal could also be based on failure to understand other consequences of pleading guilty, such as:
Another possible basis for appealing is ineffective assistance of counsel (if the accused had a lawyer). Generally, Louisiana criminal defense lawyers have an obligation to provide the above information to their clients prior to a guilty plea/plea bargain. This can be a difficult type of appeal since, in theory, the judge explained everything that a criminal defense attorney should have explained. But, under some circumstances, ineffective counsel can be used for an appeal.
An appeal also might be based on claims of mental impairment and/or lack of mental capacity of a defendant making a plea.
Contact A Louisiana Criminal Defense Attorney Today
For more information, contact the Law Offices of Philip B. Adams today. We are relentless and aggressive Louisiana criminal defense lawyers. Complete our "Contact Us" page here. You may significantly benefit by having an attorney with legal competence and experience assist you with your Louisiana criminal case. We have offices in Shreveport and handle criminal defense cases throughout all of Louisiana.