Asked in Criminal Law and Civil Rights for Missouri

Q: Wondering if I may have a case for dismissal

So I went to my bond appearance today and the judge gave me a continuation to find a lawyer but when I got home I started thinking about it and she didn't actually ask what my plea was.

Her exact words (after I requested a court appointed lawyer) were "So I assume you are entering into a not guilty plea? I'm going to put you down for a not guilty plea." Then she just typed it in and sent me on my way.

If you look at the court transcript from my hearing I'm absolutely positive that I didn't enter into a plea at any point and I'm not even sure if I was actually asked at all.

Is this a case of coercion? Could my lawyer argue that it was if we have the transcript?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Matthew Mueller
Matthew Mueller
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Saint Louis, MO
  • Licensed in Missouri

A: At your initial appearance before a judge, the judge is required to appoint a lawyer for you if a conviction for the offense you are charged with would probably result in confinement and if you are shown to be indigent (i.e. unable to hire your own counsel). See Missouri Supreme Court Rule 31.02(a). In this regard, the case for dismissal may be not so much a result of the judge failing to ask you what your plea was to the charge(s), but rather a result of the judge failing to appoint a lawyer for you for purposes of entering into the plea. Please keep in mind that you are at risk of having waived certain time-sensitive rights, such as the right to change of judge and/or change of venue, which you can only properly consider after consulting with your lawyer. Unfortunately, you will lose these rights if you do not make these requests within 10 days after entering your plea. I would urge you to consult with an attorney immediately on this issue.

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