What Rights Must Be Waived in Order to Plead Guilty?

In the state of California a defendant’s guilty or no-contest plea in a criminal or DUI case is valid only if it is voluntarily and knowingly made. What this means is that before accepting the plea or an admission of charged enhancements, the trial court must expressly advise the defendant and obtain his or her waiver of the basic constitutional rights to trial by jury, to confront and cross-examine witnesses, and against self-incrimination. The record must show explicit advisements and waivers of these constitutional rights.  The law provides no specific formula for advising a defendant of his or her constitutional rights. According to one Kern County DUI Attorney resource, all that is required is that the record must show by direct evidence, in light of the totality of circumstances, that the defendant was fully aware of these rights. However, it is best for the court to ensure that there is an adequate record for appeal and to protect the validity of a defendant’s guilty plea by making its advisements, defendant’s understanding of his or her rights, and waivers as complete and explicit as possible.

A Judge hearing the case may rely on a defendant’s validly executed waiver form as a proper substitute for a personal admonition.  If the court, in questioning the defendant and defense counsel, has reason to believe the defendant does not fully comprehend his or her rights, the court must conduct further inquiry of the defendant to ensure a knowing and intelligent waiver of the defendant’s rights.  Otherwise, the court need only determine whether the defendant has read and understood the contents of the form, and discussed them with defense counsel.

A mere on the record admission by the defendant does not implicate the Boykin-Tahl requirements, says a local Kern County DUI source.  When the defendant pleads not guilty and stipulates to one or more, but not all, of the evidentiary facts necessary for a conviction of the charged offense, the concerns that prompt the requirements of advice and waiver are not present.  The advisements and waivers are required, however, when the defendant submits a “slow plea,” i.e., an agreed-on disposition of the case that does not require the defendant to admit guilt but results in a finding of guilt.

One Response to What Rights Must Be Waived in Order to Plead Guilty?

  1. Ashvin says:

    Hows it going

    amazing Blog, I like this stuff.

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