When Can You Withdraw a Guilty Plea In Texas ?

Texas courts construe the right to withdraw a guilty or no contest plea liberally. See Jackson v. State, 590 S.W.2d 514, 515 (Tex. Crim. App. [Panel Op.] 1979); Washington v. State, 893 S.W.2d 107, 108 (Tex. App.-Dallas 1995, no pet.). A defendant may withdraw his guilty plea as a matter of right until the case has been taken under advisement or the judgment has been pronounced. Washington, 893 S.W.2d at 108. A case is under advisement after each side has concluded its case-in-chief, the defendant has entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere, the plea has been accepted, and the necessary admonishments have been given, even though the issue of punishment remains. Id; Thompson v. State, 852 S.W.2d 268, 270 (Tex. App.-Dallas 1993, no pet.). There is no requirement that there be a finding of guilt before a case is considered to have been taken under advisement. Scott v. State, 860 S.W.2d 645, 646 (Tex. App.-Dallas 1993, no pet.). Once the trial judge takes the case under advisement or pronounces judgment, the withdrawal of a defendant's guilty plea is within the sound discretion of the trial judge. Washington, 893 S.W.2d at 108; Thompson, 852 S.W.2d at 270. An accused may withdraw his plea any time before judgment is pronounced or the case has been taken under advisement. See Watson v. State, 974 S.W.2d 763, 765 (Tex. App.-San Antonio 1998, pet. ref'd); see also Jackson v. State, 590 S.W.2d 514, 515 (Tex. Crim. App. 1979). The decision to allow the defendant to withdraw his plea after the judge has taken the case under advisement, however, is within the sound discretion of the trial court. See id. Once the judge has admonished the accused, received his plea, and received evidence, passing the case for a pre-sentence investigation constitutes "taking the case under advisement." See id. Because Appellant sought to withdraw his guilty plea after the trial judge passed the case for preparation of a pre-sentence report, we review the court's decision under an abuse of discretion standard. See id. To establish an abuse of discretion, an appellant must show that the trial court's ruling lies outside the "zone of reasonable disagreement." See id. (quoting Montgomery v. State, 810 S.W.2d 372, 391 (Tex. Crim. App. 1990)).