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What is the procedure for filing a motion to withdraw your guilty plea in Washington?

Where do I file my motion?

You must file your motion in the court in which you pleaded guilty.  For example:  if you pleaded guilty in King County Superior Court, you must file your motion in King County Superior Court.

Does my motion have to be in writing?

If you file a motion before you are sentenced, you can make your motion orally or in writing.

If you file a motion after you are sentenced, your motion must be in writing (CrR 7.8).  

For a post-sentence motion under CrR 7.8 motion, your written motion must establish grounds for your relief and you must attach affidavits.  (An affidavit is a written declaration under penalty of perjury.).  Even if you have an attorney, you will almost certainly want to file your own affidavit and you may need to get an affidavit from your original attorney.

Unless you attach affidavits, the trial judge will automatically deny your motion.

Then, if your motion establishes a basis for relief, the court will schedule an evidentiary hearing, at which point the court will hear arguments from both you and the State (which will likely oppose your motion).  After hearing arguments, the court will rule on your motion.

Is there a time limit for filing my motion?

Yes.  Under RCW 10.73.090, you must file a motion to withdraw your guilty plea no later than 1 year after being sentenced.  If you miss this deadline, your motion is "time-barred" and you lose the right to file your motion, regardless of how strong your claim may be.  The courts strictly enforce this 1-year time limit.

There are exceptions, however.

To be a proper sentence under RCW 10.73.090 your sentence must be "valid on its face."  A sentence is invalid if the judge imposed a longer sentence than the statutory maximum sentenced authorized by law.  

For example:  Arson in the second degree is a Class B felony in Washington, which carries a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison.  If the judge sentenced you to 11 years in prison for this charge, your sentence would be "invalid" and therefore the 1-year time bar would not apply to your case.

You may also be able to escape the 1-year time limit if the prosecutor engaged in "fraud" or "misconduct" during your case. 

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