Most of the time, when a defendant pleads guilty, they are unable to later take back their plea and decide to go to trial. However, there are some circumstances when Florida law will allow a defendant to withdraw a guilty plea that they have already given and allow the defendant to have a trial. One of those circumstances is when new evidence is discovered. However, in order to get a new trial on the basis of new evidence, the case must meet specific requirements. Your skilled Tampa criminal defense attorney can tell you whether your case meets these circumstances.
Trial Due to Newly Discovered Evidence
Typically, defendants will plead guilty only when they believe that they do not have much of a chance of being found not guilty when the case goes to trial. In other words, defendants make these decisions based in large part on the evidence that the state has against them. So when new exculpatory evidence arises, some defendants may want to take back their guilty plea and go to trial. Florida has developed case law that explains in what circumstances the court will allow defendants to do this.
The first requirement for a guilty plea to be allowed to be revoked on the basis of new evidence is that the “new” evidence must not have been known by the court or the parties at the time of the trial. The second requirement is that the defendant has to show that if they had known about the evidence there is a reasonable probability that they would not have plead guilty and instead would have gone to trial. The court should look at the totality of the circumstances to determine whether the defendant would have plead not guilty.
The circumstances of this case are as follows: two defendants each plead guilty to two counts of attempted murder and one count of discharging a firearm from a vehicle. The new evidence was from a third co-defendant who executed an affidavit admitting to participating in the attempted murder, and identifying his accomplices as individuals other than the defendants.
The attesting co-defendant explained that he falsely identified the defendants as his accomplices because he was afraid of retribution if he identified his true accomplices. The two defendants asking for their guilty plea to be withdrawn both testified that they would not have plead guilty had they knew about this evidence.
The state argued that there was other evidence that identified the defendants as the perpetrators of the crime. However, the state did not attach any specific evidence to support this contention. The state also argues that the third co-defendant’s affidavit is “inherently incredible” but the appeals court stated that it is not clear whether he is credible or not. Thus, the court ordered the state to conduct an evidentiary hearing to determine whether the defendants could have ascertained this information sooner. Thus, the outcome will be determined by whether or not the affidavit is credible and whether with due diligence the defendants could have accessed this evidence sooner.
Contact an Experienced Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney Today!
The knowledgeable Tampa criminal defense attorneys at Hanlon Law Firm have extensive experience defending clients from criminal charges and will fight zealously on your behalf. Call our offices at (727) 897-5413 or contact us online to speak with our attorneys today.
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