What is a Felony Change of Plea Hearing?
If you reached a plea agreement with the State in your felony case in the Superior Court, your case will be set for what's called a Change of Plea Hearing. You may be wondering what's going to happen at that Change of Plea Hearing.
When a defendant enters into a plea agreement with the State, they are changing their plea from not guilty to guilty. This plea agreement has to be put into writing. The Court has to enter the plea agreement on the record. So, the Court has to go through the plea agreement with the defendant to make sure that they understand it.
The Court has to determine three things. They have to determine if the defendant who is entering the plea agreement knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily. So, how does the court do that? The court will go over the plea agreement with the defendant and will ask them a series of questions. The court will tell a defendant what they're agreeing to plead guilty to, what the normal range of sentence is and what charges, if any, the State is dropping or dismissing and what sentence they'll be facing if they enter the plea agreement.
The Court will also make sure the defendant is intelligently entering the plea agreement. So, the Court will advise a defendant of what rights they are giving up by entering the plea agreement. There are several rights that the defendant gives up. The defendant is giving up the right to remain silent. They're giving up the right to be represented by an attorney at trial. The defendant gives up the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, or gives up their right to a jury trial in a felony case. So, the Judge wants to make sure that the defendant understands that they're giving up those rights.
The Judge will also ask the defendant if anybody has made any threats or promises to them that are not in the plea agreement. So, the Judge needs to determine if the plea agreement is voluntarily made.
So, this is all done on the record. After the Change of Plea Hearing is conducted, the Judge will then set the case for a Judgement and Sentencing Hearing, approximately 30 days after the Change of Plea Hearing is conducted.
So, if you have any questions about a criminal case, please give my office a call. Let's find out if your case is something we can help you with. Call my office at 928-753-6868 or visit my website at HampLaw.com.