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Name: People v. Farwell
Case #: B257775
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 11/05/2015
Subsequent History: Review granted 2/3/2016: S231009

Defendant’s stipulation admitting that he drove on a suspended driver’s license was voluntary and intelligent despite lack of Boykin/Tahl advisements. Farwell was charged with gross vehicular manslaughter and driving on a suspended license. During the middle of the trial, Farwell’s lawyer entered into a stipulation admitting that he had been driving on a suspended license. However, the court did not advise Farwell of his rights pursuant to Boykin v. Alabama (1969) 395 U.S 238, 243-244 and In re Tahl (1969) 1 Cal.3d 122 at the time it accepted the stipulation. Farwell was convicted of both charges. On appeal he argued that his conviction for driving on a suspended license should be reversed because he was not advised of and did not waive his rights at the time of the stipulation. Held: Affirmed. A stipulation is tantamount to a guilty plea and requires the defendant be aware of and waive his constitutional rights to a trial. But failure to explicitly advise the defendant of his trial rights is not reversible error if it is shown that the admission was voluntary and intelligent under the totality of the circumstances. (People v. Howard (1992) 1 Cal.4th 1132.) In making this assessment the court considers the entire record. Here, Farwell’s constitutional rights were discussed or mentioned more than 45 times during voir dire, jury pre-instructions, and opening statements. Furthermore, he necessarily knew he had the right to a jury trial and to cross examine witnesses because he entered into the stipulation in the middle of the trial. Farwell also had prior convictions, which demonstrated he “was not a neophyte to the criminal justice system” and possessed knowledge regarding his legal rights. Under the totality of the circumstances, he knew of and waived his constitutional rights when counsel made the strategic decision to enter the stipulation. [Editor’s Note: J. Mosk dissented, arguing this was a silent record case and that reversal was therefore required.]