The Rights You Waive If You Plead Guilty

By Bo Kalabus
Office: 972-562-7549
Collin County 24 Hour Jail Release 214-402-4364

If you decide to plead guilty to a criminal offense in order to take a deal (plea agreement) from the State of Texas, you are also giving up some very important rights. Usually a plea agreement comes as a result of negotiations between your lawyer and the prosecutor. Like any negotiation, usually an agreement has been struck after both sides give something up. In exchange for the plea agreement, a Defendant in a criminal matter must read and sign a document entitled “Defendant’s Waiver of Rights” which is exactly what it is–a list of rights that you waive if you take the deal. If you are charged with a crime and want to take a plea agreement you will give up the following rights:

1. Identity and Waiver of Reading of the Charging Document
a. You admit you are the same person named in the charging document that is charged with the crime and that the name used in the charging document is your true and correct name.
b. You give up your right to have the charging document (either an indictment-felony or information-misdemeanor) read in open court.

2. Waiver of Jury Trial, Confrontation, and Presentation of Witnesses
a. You give up your right to have the case tried before an impartial jury on the issue of guilt or innocence and on the issue of punishment if applicable.
b. You give up the right to confront witnesses against you.
c. You give up the right to subpoena witnesses to testify on your behalf, and the right to 10 days notice to prepare for trial or hearing.

3. Reasonable Doubt
a. The State of Texas has to prove its case against you by proof beyond a reasonable doubt if you go to trial. Essentially, this is State’s burden of proof at trial–proof beyond reasonable doubt. You give up your right to hold the State of Texas to its burden of proof to prove the case against you with your plea agreement.

4. Non-Citizens
a. If you are not a citizen of the United States, entering a guilty plea or no contest plea could have serious immigration consequences, including, but not limited to, deportation, denial of naturalization under federal law and exclusion from admission to this country.

As you can see, there are many pitfalls to taking a deal and pleading guilty. In the process you waive many important rights that should not be taken lightly. Before you make any decisions regarding a plea agreement, you should consult with an experienced criminal lawyer to ensure you make the correct decision.

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