A defendant must be aware of all the rights he is waiving before the Court will accept his guilty plea.
Simple misdemeanors can often be pleaded out without the defendant’s signature. An attorney can take care of this with only the defendant’s approval over the phone.
Serious and aggravated misdemeanors can often be pleaded out with a written form, bearing the attorney’s and defendant’s signatures. Felonies must be pleaded in open court.
The defendant will be made aware of all of his constitutional rights prior to the entry of the plea. This is done through a conference with the defendant and his attorney. The defendant must be aware of his right to remain silent, his right to a trial with a jury, his right to call witnesses and use subpoenas, and many other right guaranteed to all defendants through the Constitution.
The Court must also determine if the defendant has been unduly pressured into entering the guilty plea, and whether the defendant is of sound mind and understands the proceedings.
The defendant must be made aware of the maximum and minimum sentences for the offense for which he is pleading guilty.
The guilty plea proceedings will generally inform the Court of any plea agreements that have been made between the defendant’s attorney and the prosecutor. The Court then has the opportunity to accept or deny the agreement.
Entering a guilty plea should always be considered final. Please consult with an attorney before you make this decision.