New Jersey Superior Court Judge Salem Ahto recently rejected a former Mount Olive cop’s motion for withdrawal of plea. And he took 90 minutes to do it, too! Apparently, the judge intended the lecture as a tribute. Indeed, Judge Ahto told the officer, “I don’t want you to think I just blew through this,” per nj dot com. Additionally, he said, “I’m aware of your contributions to the community.” Now that is a fine how-do-ya-do. Then again, when is the next time the judge will address an audience of 60 supporters for a defendant in his courtroom? The officer had previously entered a guilty plea to obstructing administration of law. Therefore, under the plea agreement, the State dismissed one count of Official Misconduct, and the cop received a $625 fine, with no jail time or probation. But he had to give up his job.
Withdrawal of Plea, R. 3:9-3(e)
A defendant who pleads guilty must forfeit various rights. Among them are the right to:
- the presumption of innocence
- remain silent, and not have the silence held against him
- trial by jury
- insist State prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt
- confront adverse witnesses through cross-examination
- testify, call witnesses, and present defenses
- file additional defense motions
Nevertheless, a criminal defendant may withdraw a guilty plea under the New Jersey Rules of Court.
If at the time of sentencing the court determines that the interests of justice would not be served by effectuating the agreement reached by the prosecutor and defense counsel or by imposing sentence in accordance with the court’s previous indications of sentence, the court may vacate the plea or the defendant shall be permitted to withdraw the plea.
To prevail, a defendant must persuade the judge against carrying out the plea agreement with evidence related to:
- Defendant’s claim of innocence
- The reasons for withdrawal
- Whether the plea came about through negotiations with the State
- Prejudice to the State
South Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Smolensky, Esquire, knows how to protect his clients. Mr. Smolensky can provide consultations on any case regarding pleading guilty and withdrawal. Call Now—(856) 812-0321.