When accused of criminal charges, every American has important constitutional rights that must be protected. However, circumstances may dictate that a criminal defendant waives some or all these valuable rights. An experienced criminal defense attorney may ensure that any individual’s constitutional rights are asserted so that he or she may receive the fairest and most favorable outcome in a criminal matter in California.
You do not have to be an attorney to know what a plea bargain is in a criminal case. However, you do need to be an experienced criminal defense attorney to know when such an agreement is in the best interests of a client.
California defendants often resolve their criminal charges by entering into a plea agreement with the State of California. In the process of making any plea bargain, a defendant often waives or relinquishes certain valuable constitutional rights to have a charge reduced.
The following constitutional rights are those that criminal defendants in California typically waive by pleading guilty or no contest:
- The Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination;
- The Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial; and
- The Sixth Amendment right to confront witnesses.
In the 1969 case of In re Tahl, the California Supreme Court held that for a plea to be valid, defendants must be advised of their constitutional rights related to trial for their criminal charges and the consequences of waiving these important rights when accepting a plea offer from the prosecution. Tahl waivers are used in criminal matters involving both felonies and misdemeanors.
A Tahl waiver is used prior to a defendant pleading guilty or no contest to a criminal charge. Most courts require that a criminal defendant execute a Tahl waiver through an agreement in writing, although some may allow oral plea agreements. Generally, these jurisdictions have reduced notice of the rights and waiver of the rights to a simple form called a “Tahl form.” This form must be read, understood, and signed by the defendant for him or her to plead guilty or no contest. Many courts in California have Tahl forms that are specifically tailored to charges for DUI offenses.
As with any waiver of important rights, Tahl waivers are intended to ensure that a defendant only enters into a plea agreement knowingly and voluntarily, as well as providing notice to the accused of the consequences of waiving these valuable rights. As a safeguard, judges examine defendants about any waivers of their rights to confirm their desire to relinquish them and plead guilty. If defective, a Tahl waiver may result in an invalid plea bargain. Defendants who decide to plead guilty or no contest in a criminal case may be able to withdraw a plea later under California Penal Code § 1018 PC.
The attorney that any defendant hires may be crucial to achieving the best possible result. John Patrick Dolan has forty years of criminal defense experience. Contact Dolan Law Offices today at 760-775-3739 or 562-824-4007 to discuss your situation or find out more online here.