People plead guilty to criminal charges without an attorney all the time. Either because they cannot afford an attorney to represent them, or they’re convinced that what they’re charged with is so minor that it won’t affect them and therefore isn’t worth paying to hire an attorney. But many of these people find out down the road that, because they’ve pleaded guilty, they’ve been rejected from a job they applied to, or have been denied an apartment lease, or have received a Notice of Suspension from the Department of Revenue informing them that they’ve acquired too many points on their license and that their license is suspended.

The law in Missouri states that you have 30 days from the date you pleaded guilty to have the court “set aside” your guilty plea (i.e. “reopen” your case and take you back to where you were before pleading guilty). But in many courts, especially municipal courts, experienced attorneys are able to have their clients’ guilty pleas set aside well after the 30 days have expired. This is especially true if a person pleaded guilty without the assistance of an attorney.

My office receives calls all the time from people who find out many weeks after pleading guilty to a charge without an attorney that the price of doing so often goes beyond a simple fine and court fees. A prospective employer won’t hire them because of a guilty plea they found on CaseNet, a landlord won’t rent to them, etc. If you pleaded guilty to a charge and now wish to have that plea “set aside” and have your case “reopened”, you need to contact an experienced attorney quickly.