Constitutional Rights you Waive When you Plead Guilty

Every single guilty plea around the State of Indiana typically looks relatively the same. While each judge conducts the hearings slightly different and pleas may read differently. There are certain things that must be included in any plea agreement, regardless of the level, and irrespective of the penalty agreed to.

More specifically, when someone is pleading guilty, they must demonstrate an understanding of what they are pleading to, the range of penalties they are facing, must acknowledge that they did in fact commit the offense, and fully comprehends the constitutional rights they are giving up by pleading guilty.

The Supreme Court has issued a series of rulings over the years opining that defendants must be informed specifically of certain constitutional rights before the guilty plea is accepted and the sentencing is entered into. But what are they you might ask? Below is a list of the essential constitutional rights every judge must address, in person, and with emphasis to every defendant before them who is entering into a guilty plea. If a judge fails to address these specific constitutional rights, the case would be ripe for appeal and/or post-conviction relief — the process of undoing a prior adjudication.

Here is the list, which is read aloud to every defendant, and for which every defendant must specifically acknowledge an understanding of, and waive individually:

  • The right to a public and speedy trial, and by jury;
  • The right to counsel and have one appointed to them if they could not afford one during any stage and for any proceeding before the Court;
  • The right to see, hear, confront, and cross examine the witnesses against them;
  • The right to subpoena people at no expense to them through the compulsory process to appear on they behalf and favor;
  • The right for the State to prove his/her guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to all elements of the offense;
  • The right to remain silent and not be compelled to testify against oneself;
  • The right to present evidence on one’s behalf and to be presumed innocent until proven guilty;
  • The right to appeal the convictions or any sentence imposed by this Court;
  • ** The Supreme Court has also recently added an advisement of immigration consequences as well **

Again, each of these must be read aloud and the defendant must express an understanding and specific waiver of each of these in order for a guilty plea to be upheld as legal. Should you be sentenced or if someone you know has been sentenced without these waivers, you may be eligible to seek judicial review or appeal of your convictions/sentences. If so, give the experienced Indianapolis Appeals Attorneys at Banks & Brower, LLC a call today at 317.526.4630 or by email at info@banksbrower.com. We are available 24/7/365.