Does a Guilty Plea Have to Be In Writing ?

Article 1.15 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure reads as follows: No person can be convicted of a felony except upon the verdict of a jury duly rendered and recorded, unless the defendant, upon entering a plea, has in open court in person waived his right of trial by jury in writing in accordance with Articles 1.13 and 1.14; provided, however, that it shall be necessary for the State to introduce evidence in the record showing the guilt of the defendant and said evidence shall be accepted by the court as the basis for its judgement and in no event shall a person charged be convicted upon his plea without sufficient evidence to support the same. The evidence may be stipulated if the defendant in such case consents in writing, in open court, to waive the appearance, confrontation, and cross-examination of witnesses, and further consents either to an oral stipulation of the evidence and testimony or to the introduction of testimony by affidavits, written statements of witnesses, and any other documentary evidence in support of the judgment of the court. Such waiver and consent must be approved by the court in writing, and be filed in the file of the papers of the cause. TEX. CODE CRIM. PROC. ANN. Art. 1.15 (Vernon Supp. 2000). Article 1.15 is a procedural safeguard; it ensures that no person will be convicted of a felony on a guilty plea without sufficient evidence of guilt. See Lyles v. State, 745 S.W.2d 567 (Tex. App.--Houston [1st Dist.] 1988, pet. ref'd). The article maintains the burden of proof on the State, even when a defendant enters a plea of guilty or nolo contendere. See id. "Nothing in article 1.15 prohibits the court from considering testimony produced through cross-examination of the state's witnesses or by the defense putting on its own evidence through rebuttal witnesses." Vanderburg, 681 S.W.2d at 718.