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.
If you or someone you know has been charged with a criminal offense, please contact our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.