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Can you file a motion to withdraw your guilty before you are sentenced in Washington?

Under CrR 4.2, you can file a motion to withdraw a guilty plea before you are sentenced.  CrR 4.2 apples only in superior court but there is a virtually identical rule (CrRLJ 4.2) that applies in so-called "courts of limited jurisdiction" (i.e. district courts or municipal courts).

To win your motion under CrR 4.2, you have to convince the judge that not granting your motion would result in “manifest injustice.”  In practice, this means that there was an obvious error in your guilty plea proceedings.

The following are examples of manifest injustice:

  • The judge did not inform you of the maximum possible sentence that you were facing for the charge—or advised you incorrectly
  • Your attorney didn't tell you that pleading guilty could result in your getting deported
  • Your attorney didn't properly inform you of the elements of the crime
  • You did not have an interpreter, and English is not your native language

If the judge finds evidence of manifest injustice, then the court “shall” grant your motion and allow you to withdraw your guilty plea.  

You can make a CrR 4.2 motion orally or in writing.  

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