Understanding How California’s Cruz Waiver Works

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Understanding How California’s Cruz Waiver Works

If you’ve never heard of California’s Cruze waiver before, you’re not alone. Very few people outside of lawyers are aware of this option.

A Cruz Waiver is a California thing. It’s a type of plea agreement that the defendant enters into in exchange for being released from jail. It’s a legally binding agreement between the defendant and the court system that makes it very clear that the defendant agrees to appear in court for their sentencing and that they will accept their sentence without protest. It differs from a bail bond because no money is exchanged and both the defendant’s legal team and the prosecution know that the defendant is pleading guilty and already have a good idea about how the sentencing will work.

The catch connected to a Cruz waiver is that if the defendant fails to appear in court, the original terms of the plea deal are off and the judge will impose a significantly more severe sentence. In most cases, when a Cruz waiver is broken, the defendant is hit with the maximum allowable sentence.

Agreeing to show up in court is just one of the rules the defendant must follow while they’re released on a Cruz waiver. In addition to appearing in court they must:


  • Not commit any other crimes

  • They must follow any other criteria connected to their release, such as wearing a tracking device and staying away from certain people

Any violation of the Cruz waiver nullifies the original plea agreement.

In most cases, Cruz waivers are set up when the defendant in a case knows that the prosecution has a solid case against them, even with the plea deal they’re facing a long jail sentence, and they have some serious personal matters that need settling before they start serving their sentence.

Defendants usually agree to accept a Cruz waiver because it allows them to get their personal life in order. In addition to doing things like handling child care while they are imprisoned, the Cruz waiver allows them to alert landlords to the situation, work out their two-week work notice, arrange a banking strategy so that any bills that need to be paid while they are incarcerated are handled, and to figure out what they should do with their pets.

Cruz waivers don’t usually last very long so it’s important that the defendant start putting their personal affairs in order as soon as they’re released.