Plea cannot be withdrawn based on fear – Rhode Island Lawyers Weekly

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A driver could not withdraw his guilty plea to driving offenses despite claiming his fear and other concerns caused him to make a mistake by pleading guilty, a Traffic Tribunal appeal panel has ruled.

The driver of the appeal, Justin Aptt Jr., pleaded guilty to charged violations of GL §31-16-5 (“Turn Signal Required”) and §31-15-11 (“Roadway Violations”). He later filed a motion to reconsider the case, claiming he had “accidentally” pleaded guilty. After the request was rejected by the Traffic Court magistrate, the panel upheld that decision.

“Plaintiff claims he has concerns about his driving and claims he was misinformed about evidence from a video recording of the incident. … However, these are not valid reasons to withhold a guilty plea,” the panel wrote.

“Plaintiff merely alleges that his fear and other concerns caused him to inadvertently plead guilty. … However, as the examining magistrate explained to the appellant: ‘I offer everyone the opportunity to plead guilty or not guilty. You pleaded guilty, so the case is over. You can’t change your mind later. Because if we did that… everyone would do that,” the panel said.

The panel found that there was no error of law or abuse of discretion in the hearing judge’s decision to deny the request for reconsideration.

The five-page decision is State v. ApttLawyers Weekly No. 75-008-24.

Click here to read the full text of the advice.