In Hall v. State, the Georgia Court of Appeals held that the trial court did not err in the denial of the defendant’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea to aggravated stalking and child molestation charges because the Court found the plea to be voluntary.
At the defendant’s hearing on his motion to withdraw his guilty plea, the defendant testified that the chief jailer, whom the defendant had known for 10 years, approached him prior to trial and said that if he did not take the plea deal and was found guilty, he would be given a life sentence. Further, the defendant testified that the jailer implied that the deck was stacked against him and that the defendant would not receive good representation from his public defender. The defendant testified that the chief jailer stated that he was “innocent until proven broke.”
The chief jailer testified that he did say the defendant was “innocent until proven broke,” but denied implying that the deck was stacked against him or that he attempted to influence him in any way.
On appeal, the defendant contended that the chief jailer’s comments coerced him into pleading guilty. He argued that he should be permitted to withdraw his plea on that basis. The Court of Appeals disagreed, finding that the chief jailer’s comments did not require a finding of duress.
The Court noted that in his plea colloquy, the defendant stated he understood the charges against him and that his plea was knowing and voluntary. Further, the Court pointed out that the defendant did not bring any ineffective assistance of counsel claims.
As a result, the Court held that the trial court did not err in denying the defendant’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea.