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Pennsylvania Court Examines the Right to Withdraw a Nolo Contendere Plea in DUI Cases

In Pennsylvania, people charged with DUI offenses will often assert their innocence. In some instances, though, they will plead nolo contendere, or no contest, meaning that they do not expressly admit guilt but agree to accept punishment. A plea of nolo contendere should not be entered into without careful consideration, however, as once such a plea is entered, it can be challenging to withdraw, as demonstrated in a recent Pennsylvania DUI case. If you are accused of committing a DUI crime, it is smart to confer with a Pennsylvania DUI defense lawyer about your options for protecting your interests.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the police received a dispatch about a vehicle striking a pedestrian. When the police arrived at the accident scene, they observed a man on the ground with substantial injuries. Bystanders advised the police that a man driving a white SUV hit two stop signs and then struck the victim and provided the police with the SUV’s license plate number.

Allegedly, the police patrolled the area and found the SUV involved in the accident, which belonged to the defendant. They learned that the defendant discarded a pill bottle containing benzodiazepines and smelled marijuana inside the SUV. The defendant was ultimately arrested and charged with multiple DUI offenses. He entered a plea of nolo contendere, and the trial court sentenced him to four to eight years of imprisonment. He filed a motion to withdraw his plea, which the court denied. He then appealed.

The Right to Withdraw a Nolo Contendere Plea in DUI Cases

On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court ruling. In its opinion, the court explained that the defendant was present during his plea and stated that he understood the charges against him and that he was entering a nolo contendere plea voluntarily. He also acknowledged that the Commonwealth had sufficient evidence to prove the charges against him. Moreover, his prior counsel affirmed that he had reviewed the evidence with the defendant and had advised him on his plea.

In sum, the court found that the defendant failed to present any new evidence that would support his innocence, and his arguments were purely based on his perception of the reliability of eyewitness identifications and the prosecution’s ability to prove he possessed the bottle containing benzodiazepines. Thus, the court found that the defendant’s arguments were not sufficient to withdraw his plea and affirmed the trial court ruling.

Confer with an Experienced Pennsylvania DUI Defense Attorney

While most people charged with DUI offenses in Pennsylvania enter a plea of not guilty, in some instances, it may be beneficial to consider other pleas. If you are charged with a DUI crime, it is smart to confer with an attorney about your options for seeking a favorable result. Zachary B. Cooper is a Pennsylvania DUI defense lawyer with ample experience helping people protect their interests, and if you hire him, he can assess the facts of your case and assist you in determining the best manner to proceed. You can contact Mr. Cooper through the form online or at (215) 542-0800 to set up a meeting.