Monday, November 14, 2011

Failed Attempt to Withdraw Guilty Plea Results in Serious Sentence Enhancement

US v. Armendariz-Soto, 2011 WL 5346068 , No. 10-3307 (10th Cir. November 8, 2011) (published): Tenth holds that the district court does not need to allow a defendant to withdraw his guilty plea when the defendant's alleged basis for withdrawal is a lie. The defendant had pled guilty to various gun and drug charges. He wanted to withdraw his plea of guilty and claimed his attorney promised him a 15-year sentence. Main problem was that, in the colloquy, he repeatedly said no specific sentence was promised to him and when he tried to claim his attorney had told him to just say "yes" to all the questions, his attorney swore to the contrary. End result: the court found the defendant not credible, enhanced him for obstruction, denied him acceptance, and sentenced him to the low end of the 420-life guideline range. The COA found no reason to find that the district court's findings were erroneous, and further refused to find that the sentence was either procedurally or substantively unreasonable. This is a good case to show your client who may want to withdraw a guilty plea for no good reason.