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Cruz Waiver

What is a Cruz Waiver in a California Criminal Case?

A Cruz Waiver is essentially a promise made by an out-of-custody defendant to return to court later for a sentencing hearing. If they break the law while free, they waive their right to the plea bargain terms and might face a more severe sentence.

In other words, suppose you are accused of a California crime, and your defense lawyer has negotiated a plea agreement. In that case, the judge might ask you to sign a Cruz Waiver as a condition of release to prepare for when your sentence begins. 

Cruz Waiver in a California Criminal Case

Cruz Waivers got its name from the California Supreme Court. People v. Cruz (1988) 44 Cal.3d 1247 and People v. Vargas (1990) 223 Cal. 3d 1107. 

If you abide by the terms of the plea agreement, then the Cruz Waiver is a standard procedure, but you will waive certain rights when you make this agreement. This means that you must understand how it works before making this decision.

Simply put, you can seek a plea bargain during criminal proceedings in California or go to trial. The advantage of a plea bargain is that you can typically get a lesser sentence instead of losing at trial and getting a more severe punishment. 

The Cruz Waiver refers to a situation where you plead guilty or no contest to a felony crime but are not yet prepared to serve jail time because you need time to get your affairs in order before incarceration.

The judge can agree to accept your plea immediately but put sentencing and jail surrender over to a later date. Often, they will ask for a Cruz Waiver, which states that while you are out of custody for thirty days and violate the law, it will be used against you.

Cruz Waiver - Explained

When you accept a plea bargain and a Cruz Waiver, you agree with the court, saying that if they release you from custody, you promise to appear later for sentencing. 

During this time, you can't commit any new crimes or fail to appear, or you will relinquish your right to the terms of a plea agreement.  Judges often request a Cruz Waiver between the plea deal and the sentencing hearing before releasing you.

This will give you time before sentencing to take care of personal business. In exchange, you waive your right to change or withdraw your plea if you violate the terms and do not appear for sentencing. 

Suppose you violate the terms of the Cruz Waiver. In that case, the judge can impose a harsher sentence. The Cruz Waiver is a type of security ensuring you return for sentencing if released from custody. Notably, the rights you are waiving include the following: 

  • Changing the terms of your plea agreement.
  • Withdrawing your guilty or no contest plea.
  • Challenge a more severe sentence if imposed by the court. 

The Cruz Waiver allows the judge to impose higher penalties when, after pleading guilty to a crime and being released pending sentencing, you do any of the following acts: 

  • You fail to appear at your sentencing hearing.
  • You commit another crime, or
  • You violate any rules set out by the court for release.

When is the Cruz Waiver Used?

Sometimes, a Cruz Waiver is available in cases involving driving under the influence (DUI), drug possession, or other misdemeanor crimes. As noted, they allow you to get your personal affairs and business dealings in order before being remanded into custody to serve your sentence.

They are mainly used along with plea agreements with the prosecutor when you plead guilty or no contest to the charges in exchange for a lesser sentence or dismiss other charges.  For a Cruz Waiver to be applied to your case, all the following must be true:

  • You pled guilty or no contest to a crime.
  • You are out of custody on bail or your own recognizance and
  • The court issues a stay of sentencing to allow you more. 

What Are the Cruz Waiver Benefits?

Notably, the primary benefit of a Cuz Waiver is that it gives you more time to arrange your personal affairs before your sentence begins, such as the following: 

  • Arranging childcare while you are in custody.
  • Working out employment issues while in jail.
  • Make financial arrangements for your family.
  • Place your personal belongings into storage. 

With a Cruz waiver, the judge agrees to honor the plea deal provided you appear in time. However, if you fail to appear, the judge can reject the plea deal and impose a harsher sentence, including the maximum for your crime. The judge will typically issue a bench warrant for your arrest if you fail to appear.

With a Cruz Waiver, you cannot change your plea or ask for a trial. A failure to appear will automatically revoke the plea agreement and allow the judge to impose a more severe sentence. 

Should You Agree to a Cruz Waiver?

Your decision to agree to a Cruz Waiver should only be made after you consult with your California criminal defense attorney. As noted, when signing this form, you must clearly understand what rights you are giving up. 

Your defense lawyer will review the document with you and answer any questions you may have. You are forfeiting your right to change or withdraw your plea when agreeing to stay of sentencing. You will face harsh consequences if you decide not to appear in court later. 

You will most likely be told not to leave the state without permission. You might also be said to submit to alcohol and drug testing, along with other conditions. This means you must understand all the obligations before signing the document. 

As noted, there are benefits to being released before sentencing, but violations of the terms of the agreement can be severe. Your lawyer can help you understand the risks and rewards of signing a Cruz Waiver. Contact our law firm for a free case evaluation. Cron, Israels & Stark is based in Los Angeles, CA. 

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