For many reasons, thousands of people plead guilty on a daily basis in the United States, but before the Judge will accept a Petition to plead guilty, he/she must ensure that you are waiving your rights freely, knowingly, and voluntarily by interrogating you on the following:
1) You have a right to plead not guilty (place the burden on the State to prove all elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt),
2) You have a right to a jury trial (6th Amendment Right),
3) You have a right to confront and cross examine all witnesses against you (6th Amendment Right),
4) You have a right against self-incrimination (5th Amendment Right), and
5) You have a right to send your case to the Grand Jury for possible indictment (5th Amendment Right).
Further the Court will notify you of the following:
1) The nature of the charges against you,
2) The possible defenses to said charges,
3) The minimum and maximum punishment for the charge(s),
4) That prior convictions may be considered in determining your sentence,
5) That no Trial will follow the Guilty Plea, but only Sentencing,
6) That it's perjury to falsely answer questions while under oath,
7) That there are facts to support the Guilty Plea,
8) The Negotiated Plea Agreement that took place between the State and your Attorney,
9) The Guilty Plea can be used against you to increase punishment in another case in the future,
Alternatively, there are instances where you may want to plead guilty, yet still assert your innocence and in those cases, you can plead under case law known as "Alford v. North Carolina." In Alford, also known as a "Best Interest Plea", you can enter a guilty plea and at the same time deny your guilt in the matter. You are in affect stating to the court that even though you are not guilty, you feel its in your "best interest" to plead guilty. Be mindful that this is still considered a conviction and has the same ramifications of such.
Please note, all guilty pleas should be done only after thorough consideration of the evidence against you, your prior record, and the chances for success at Trial. Also, remember that this important information can be gathered through your Attorney. Its important that you follow the advice and guidance of your Attorney and not fellow inmates or others who don't possess a Law License.
The information contained in this Blog Post is for information purposes only. Please seek the advice of an Attorney should you find yourself charged with a criminal offense.
If you are seeking the services of an experienced and competent Criminal Defense Attorney, please contact Tawanda Williams Law Office, PLLC at 901-206-8200.