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Waldorf, Maryland Criminal Law: Can I Appeal a Plea Bargain That I Have Accepted?

Generally, the answer is “no” (with a couple of exceptions discussed below). Since a criminal plea bargain is an AGREEMENT involving the consent to entry of a court’s Order, it is not possible to appeal. This is a general rule that applies in criminal and civil matters. If a person consents to the entry of a court’s Order in a criminal or civil case, then that person cannot appeal the court’s order. Further, here in Maryland, the criminal defendant who accepts a plea bargain will have to sign papers that reflect the plea bargain. Those papers will include a waiver of appeal both for the guilty plea and for the sentence imposed. As an example, assume that the plea bargain involves an agreement to plead guilty to a charge with a maximum of two years imprisonment. An example of a waiver might read like this:

“The defendant acknowledges that, under Maryland law, a defendant has the right to appeal any conviction and the sentence imposed. In exchange for the concessions made by the State of Maryland in this plea agreement, the defendant hereby and knowingly (i) waives any right to appeal his plea of guilty and (ii) waives his right to appeal any sentence that does not exceed the maximum provided in the statute(s) of conviction on any ground whatever.”

From this example, it can be seen that there is at least one circumstance where a criminal defendant can appeal a plea bargain: when the judge subsequently imposes a sentence that exceeds what is allowed under the relevant Maryland criminal statute. Thus, in our hypothetical, if the judge imposed a three-year jail term following a plea bargain, the appeal would be allowed. Technically, however, the defendant would not be appealing the plea bargain agreement (or the guilty plea) but would be appealing the sentencing imposed.

More broadly, there are two methods of appealing the entirety of a plea bargain. The first is to argue the ineffectiveness of legal counsel. This has two general types: arguing that the defendant’s criminal defense lawyer did not properly and sufficiently provide legal guidance or arguing that the plea bargain actually signed was not what the lawyer said it was supposed to be. Both of these are difficult to prove on appeal, and there are not too many examples of success. The second is to argue that the Judge did not provide sufficient explanation to the criminal defendant of what the plea bargain meant. This, too, can be difficult to prove. At the core, these types of appeals involve the argument that the plea bargain was not knowingly entered with full knowledge and awareness of the consequences.

Contact Waldorf, Maryland Criminal Defense Lawyer Robert Castro Today

This article has been provided by the Law Office of Robert Castro. For more information or questions, contact our office to speak to an experienced Maryland criminal defense lawyer at (301) 705-5137. We are Waldorf, MD, Criminal Defense lawyers. Our address is 2670 Crain Highway, Waldorf, MD, 20601.