Advising Defendant of His Constitutional Right to Testify on His Own Behalf

In State v. Thomas, 128 Wn.2d 553, 910 P.2d 475 (1996), the Court evaluated whether a trial court erred by not directly advising the defendant of his constitutional right to testify on his own behalf. Id. at 554.

A defendant's waiver of the right to testify must be made knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily. Id. at 558. In Thomas, defense counsel filed an affidavit stating that after discussion of the benefits and risks of testifying, the defendant chose not to testify on his own behalf. Id. at 556.

The Court held that the trial judge is not required to advise a defendant of his or her right to testify in order for a waiver to be valid. Id. at 557.

In fact, this court expressed concern that a warning from the judge regarding the risks of waiving the right to testify might improperly impact the defendant's right not to testify. Id. at 560.

The Court reasoned that judges should not intrude on this important communication between the client and his or her attorney. Id.