What is a Tahl Form?


Last week a client asked me what a Tahl form was after I explained the process of accepting a plea deal. I thought it might be a good idea to run through the basics of a Tahl form for a DUI.

The California Supreme Court, in the1969 case of In re Tahl, held that defendants must be advised of their constitutional rights associated with going to trial and consequences of waiving those rights when accepting a plea offer. The Court stated that this must be done in order for the plea to be valid. Most California courts have reduced notice of the rights and waiver of the rights to a simple form called a “Tahl form.” The Tahl form must be read, understood and signed by the defendant in order to plead guilty or no contest.

Many courts have Tahl forms that are specific to DUIs. In Los Angeles County the form is entitled “DUI Advisement of Rights, Waiver, and Plea form.” The general format usually consists of a statement of the constitutional right accompanied with a place for the defendant to initial indicating that they understand the right. Following the statement of the constitutional right is a statement of waiver accompanied with a place for the defendant to initial indicating that they waive the previously right. It would look something like this:

RIGHT TO A JURY TRIAL – I understand that I have the right to a speedy, public jury trial. At the trial, I would be presumed innocent, and I could not be convicted unless 12 impartial jurors were convinced of my guilt beyond a reasonable doubt…………………………………………………………………………..Defendant’s Initials

I give up my right to a jury trial……………………………………………………………………………………Defendant’s Initials

In addition to constitutional rights, most DUI Tahl forms also have sections that and advisements that are specific to DUIs. For example, DUI Tahl forms will have a section that notifies the defendant of the consequences of pleading guilty or no contest to a DUI with regard to DMV and license requirements and/or restrictions. The defendant would also have to initial next to these sections indicating that they understand.

Many DUI Tahl forms also contain the Watson Advisement. The Watson Advisement notifies a defendant that if they drive drunk again and kill someone as a result of their drunk driving, they can be charged with murder. Most of the time, this will be in addition to a separate document that is the actual Watson Advisement.

The prosecutor will usually write in the charge that you are pleading to. Or, if it is a DUI specific form, the charges are pre-printed on the form and the prosecutor will check off the boxes next to the charges that apply.

Once the attorney reviews the Tahl form with the defendant, both defendant and the attorney sign the form and hand it to the courtroom clerk. The judge will review the form with the defendant to ensure that the defendant understands and voluntarily waives their rights. The court will accept the plea and Tahl form after the judge finds that the plea is voluntarily given and that there is a factual basis for the plea.

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2 Responses to What is a Tahl Form?

  1. Rebecca Westover says:

    I would like to know exactly what year was the admotion attached and does it vary from county to county apon discretion of the prosecutor. Also, I read that(if I understood it right that not all tahl waiver contain the Watson advisement. Am I understanding it correctly?

  2. Rebecca Westover says:

    I would like to know exactly what year was the admotion attached and does it vary from county to county apon discretion of the prosecutor. Also, I read that(if I understood it right)not all tahl waivers contain the Watson advisement. Am I understanding it correctly?

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