Requirements to Enter a Guilty Plea in Georgia

This blog article serves to answer one simple question: what are the prerequisites for a voluntary guilty plea?


A judge shall not accept a plea of guilty without first determining the plea was entered voluntarily. Uniform Rules of Superior Court 33.7; Williams v. State, 221 Ga. App. 291 (1996).


To establish voluntariness, judges should advise defendants of:


  • The nature of the charges against him/her
  • The rights he/she are waiving by entering a guilty plea
  • The consequences of a guilty plea


Nature of the Charges


  • Does the defendant understand the nature of the charges?
  • Is there a factual basis for the defendant’s guilty plea?
  • Is there a plea agreement?
  • Have there been any threats or promises made (other than plea agreement) to induce the plea?


Rights Waived by Guilty Plea


  • Right to a jury trial
  • Presumption of innocence
  • Right to confront witnesses
  • Right to subpoena witnesses
  • Right to testify and offer evidence
  • Right to assistance of counsel
  • Right against self-incrimination


Consequences of the Guilty Plea


  • Maximum possible punishment under law defendant could receive
  • Mandatory minimum punishment, if any
  • Time limits to appeal conviction (habeus corpus)
    • 180 days traffic, 1 year misdemeanors, 4 years felonies
  • Impact on immigration status if not U.S. citizen


Effect of a Guilty Plea


A guilty plea results in a conviction. All that remains is judgment and punishment. Further, a guilty plea waives all defenses, known and unknown. A defendant can later challenge the voluntariness of the plea.


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