In Georgia and in courts throughout the United States, people are handed “waiver of rights” forms to sign before the start of their court appearance. Most people sign these forms without reading or understanding the content and the important rights therein Like sheep before a slaughter, almost no one even considers that they are signing a form THAT WAIVES THEIR RIGHTS!!!
Now, what does the Waiver of Rights Form actually mean?
- That you have a right to a trial;
- You are presumed innocent at trial;
- You have a right to see, hear, and cross-examine any witness;
- You have the right to offer your own evidence and to testify in your own defense;
- You have the right to hire the attorney of your choice;
- You have the right to court-appointed counsel if you are legally indigent;
- You have the right to remain silent and silence is not an admission of guilt, nor can any inference be drawn by remaining silent;
- You have the right to appeal an adverse ruling by the trial court
These rights are important yet are commonly ignored. Years later, people who have had adverse outcomes call my office and inquire about getting their case reversed. Generally, that is not possible in Georgia if you have been advised of your rights.
So, when a police officer or clerk of court hands out a form and asks you to sign it, think for a moment as to who is asking you to sign something. The clerk of court is not your attorney. The police officer is not on your side and actually has an adverse interest in your case.
Read about your rights. If the case matters to you, ask for continuance in order to hire a lawyer.