Carroll v. State

In Carroll v. State, 975 S.W.2d 630 (Tex. Crim. App. 1998), the Court held that, pursuant to our precedents, in a unitary trial where a defendant has pled guilty there exists no per se "punishment phase." In fact, unitization of the trial, where a defendant pleads guilty to a felony charge before a jury or judge, admits the existence of all facts necessary to establish guilt and, in such cases, the introduction of testimony by the State is to enable the jury or judge intelligently to exercise discretion in the assessment of punishment. Since appellant openly pled to the offenses in the indictment she is not eligible for a bifurcated trial. . .but is instead subject to the rules of a unitary proceeding. Therefore, appellant's waiver extended to this proceeding. Carroll, 975 S.W.2d at 631-2. In Carroll, after holding that appellant's plea of guilty constituted a waiver of her right regarding self-incrimination as to sentencing, we went on to note that the provision of the signed waiver referring to "all rights of form, substance or procedure given me by law" constituted a voluntary waiver to her right against self-incrimination as to sentencing. Carroll, 975 S.W.2d at 632. The Court held that upon appellant's plea of guilty the proceeding automatically became unitary. As a unitary proceeding, appellant's waiver of her right against self-incrimination extended to the entire proceeding. In other words, it was this Court's view that when the proceeding is unitary, a waiver of rights necessarily went to the issues of both guilt and punishment - a waiver could not be had as to one but not the other. The Court did not explain why such a waiver could not apply to the issue of guilt but not to the issue of punishment, but viewed the matter as self-evident by virtue of the fact that both issues were litigated in a single proceeding: . . . Where a defendant pleads guilty either before a judge or jury the trial becomes "unitary." And as a result, there does not exist a separate punishment phase. Therefore, we hold that appellant's written waiver of her Fifth Amendment right not to self-incriminate applied to the entire criminal adjudication proceeding including the assessment of punishment. Carroll, 975 S.W.2d at 632.