Pleading Guilty in a Criminal Case & the Rights You Waive
What Am I Giving Up By Pleading Guilty?
Did you know that only 90-95% of criminal cases never go to trial? In fact, of the remaining 5-10%, roughly half are dismissed by prosecutors for some reason or another, and then roughly the remaining half see the inside of a court room for trial. Many are amazed at this statistic, but once you think about it, it makes sense. With the threat of additional charges, harsher penalties, heftier fines, and sentence enhancements, many run straight to pleading guilty (and sometimes when they are innocent — which should never happen) in order to avoid the risks of trial and guilt without agreement. As sad as that may sound, it’s a circumstance of criminal defense.
In fact, the judicial system was designed for this. It was meant to push people towards negotiations, to nudge them towards capitulation — otherwise, the costs to the state and local municipalities would be enormous. Just think of how many taxpayer dollars go to pay for our court systems (and that’s only with 5-10% of the people exercising their constitutional right to a trial). Now imagine if 100% of people went to trial. The system would shut down. Here the Indianapolis Criminal Defense Attorneys at Banks & Brower take a look at your rights that are waived in a criminal plea agreement
Many times pleading guilty may end up being your best case scenario, and any good criminal attorney should be able to explain the risk/benefits of doing so. Regardless, if you chose to plead guilty, it’s important that you contemplate the constitutionally protected rights you typically give up by pleading guilty by way of an agreement. A plea agreement is a legally binding document between you and the state in which you live. The court cannot change it on its own, but rather must accept or reject it in its totality. As such, it’s crucial you know what you are signing when you affix your signature to it.
Below is list of the common rights you waive/give up to plead guilty without a trial:
THE FIVE REQUIRED RIGHTS YOU MUST WAIVE:
Below is a list of waivers that every judge MUST read to you prior to accepting a plea of guilt. In order for any plea to stand according to Indiana law, you must understand and formally waive all five of the following rights. Typically any plea you sign will have these rights enumerated with a place for you to initial next to each of these, independently:
- The right to a public and speedy trial by jury
- The right to face and question all witnesses against you
- The right to require witnesses, by compulsory process, to be present at trial and to testify on your behalf through subpoena power
- The right to require the state to prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, while you cannot be forced to testify against yourself; AND
- The right to appeal a conviction of guilt, had you chosen to go to trial
20 TYPICAL RIGHTS YOU MAY BE ASKED TO WAIVE:
Below is a list of additional waivers most courts include in their pleas, and by no means is this list meant to be exhaustive. Instead, this list is meant as a means to provide the most common waivers, but these vary from court to court and jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
By signing any agreement of guilt, plea typically will have you acknowledge that you understand the following items:
- That the plea agreement can be introduced into evidence by stipulation at the time of the guilty plea.
- That the court has the right to accept or reject the plea in whole, and is bound by it in its entirety should it be accepted.
- The court can consider your criminal history when determining whether to accept or reject your plea.
- You understand the minimum and maximum sentence for each crime alleged and charged to which you are pleading guilty.
- That your prior criminal history as an adult or juvenile may increase your possible sentence during an open argument as to the length of what your sentence should be.
- That those convictions may make all or part of your sentence non-suspendable — requiring a minimum executed sentence.
- That the court may impose consecutive sentences if you plead guilty to more than one charge.
- That if you were on bond, probation, or parole at the time of the offense, then the sentence must be served consecutively to the sentence for the case in which you were on bond, probation or parole.
- That pleading guilty pursuant to the agreement means you accept and acknowledge an admission of truth to all the facts alleged in the counts to which you are pleading guilty, and you will be convicted on those counts.
- That you agree the sentence you are receiving is an appropriate sentence, and thus you waive the right to request to modify the sentence at a later date.
- The state reserves the right to question witnesses and comment on any evidence presented upon which the court may rely to determine the sentence imposed. The state may then also call witnesses to testify at sentencing as well.
- That a traffic related conviction will be sent to the bureau of motor vehicles and can lead toward you being labeled a habitual traffic violator.
- That if you are pleading guilty to a registerable offense, that you agree to abide by all the requirements required of you to register.
- That by pleading guilty you do not give up your right to post conviction relief.
- That you acknowledge satisfaction with your defense attorney, that they are competent to represent you, that they read through the plea with you, you understand it completely, and you believe it is in your best interest.
- You waive extradition from any other state in which you may be located in the event you fail to appear for court.
- That the plea encompasses the entire plea, and you have not been threatened, coerced, promised, or induced into accepting the plea.
- That you knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waive your right to appeal or challenge the sentence imposed by the court.
- That you are a United States Citizen, and if not, you understand the consequences of pleading guilty on your ability to stay in the United States.
- That this plea only encompasses the criminal aspects of your case, and there may be other penalties/consequences such as: (1) losing a license, permit, or job, (2) losing benefits such as housing or education, (3) receiving a harsher punishment in the future because of this conviction, (4) losing your driver’s license, (5) having your government take your property, (6) being unable to possess a firearm, and/or (7) being unable to vote.
As anyone can see, waiving any of these rights can have a huge impact on your future. It’s essential that you hire a criminal defense attorney that understands how these waivers can affect your life both currently and in years yet to come. You also need to hire a criminal defense attorney that isn’t afraid to take a case to trial if it is in your best interest. A lawyer that only pushes pleas upon their clients is not a good lawyer. Call the experienced Indianapolis Criminal Defense Attorneys at Banks & Brower, LLC at 317.870.0019 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org . As former prosecutors and experienced litigators, we will fight for your rights, every step of the way. Call today for a free consultation.