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Name: People v. Sandoval
Case #: D045846
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 06/07/2006

The court abused its discretion in denying the defendant’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea where the evidence indicated that the plea was coerced. The defendant and three codefendants who were members of his gang were charged with murder, robbery, and other crimes. The prosecutor offered a package deal plea bargain, which was available only if all four defendants accepted it. The codefendants wanted to accept the offer, but the defendant refused. The trial judge made comments to the effect that the deal was an “amazing offer” and that the defendant was letting down his codefendants by rejecting the agreement. After a recess, the defendant agreed to plead guilty. The defendant later sought to withdraw his plea on the ground that he had been coerced by a codefendant’s threat during the recess and by pressure from the trial judge. The appellate court held the motion to withdraw the plea should have been granted, because the trial court indicated that it was sure that the codefendant had in fact threatened the defendant, and thus the defendant’s guilty plea was the product of coercion.