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A Mistake Gets Suspect’s Guilty Plea Overturned

The Monitor reports Nohemi “Mimi” Gonzalez, a South Texas woman, is facing up to twenty (20) years in prison for three counts of allegedly practicing medicine without a license and one count of aggravated assault. These charges stem from accusations that Ms. Gonzalez used store-grade silicone to inject into a woman’s face, legs and buttock, claiming the shots were Botox.

In November, Ms. Gonzalez entered a guilty plea requiring her to pay restitution of $52,000 to her alleged as one of the conditions of probation. Upon hiring new counsel, who believes her initial attorney gave her improper advice and forced the defendant to accept the plea agreement, a motion was filed on the behalf of Ms. Gonzalez because her plea was mistakenly accepted by the auxiliary court.

The motion asserted Ms. Gonzalez was never placed under oath, or sworn in, when she made her guilty plea. As noted by 370th District Court Judge Noe Gonzalez, “this is more than a technicality.”

The plea agreement is no longer valid. Ms. Gonzalez faces the original 20 years in prison for the charges against her. Additionally, there are talks of extending the investigation in the hopes of finding more alleged victims.

Requirements of Plea Agreements

So what’s the big deal? All plea agreements are required to be made “knowingly and intelligently.” This is shown when a defendant testifies under oath that:

Admits that the conduct for which he has been charged is criminal activity, punishable under the law of the jurisdiction;

  • Admits to and understands the charges filed against him;
  • Is knowledgeable in regards to the actual consequences and the potential consequences, should the defendant elect to go to trial; and,
  • Has knowledge regarding the rights he waives by entering a plea of guilty or nolo contendere. These rights include the right to adequate legal representation (a defendant may enter into a plea without the presence of an attorney, but that isn’t advisable), the right to a jury trial as guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment, the right against self-incrimination as guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment, and finally, the right to confront and cross examine any witness against him.

Without the above mentioned plea colloquy (as it is referred as by the courts), as crafted by the United States Supreme Court, being given under oath, the plea agreement may be considered invalid.

While small variances to the plea colloquy may not constitute sufficient error to have the plea overturned or ruled invalid, in a later proceeding (on motion or on Tad Nelson & Associates in Texas. Our experienced attorneys will mount a vigorous defense against the charges against you in Harris County, Montgomery County, Galveston County, Brazoria County and the surrounding areas. You may reach us by calling (281) 280-0100.