P. J., COOMER and MARKLE, JJ.
Rutledge, Jr. was indicted on one count of aggravated
stalking after he was accused of sending harassing text
messages to his ex-wife in violation of a temporary
restraining order. Following a jury trial at which he elected
to represent himself, Rutledge was convicted and sentenced
the same day. Rutledge filed a motion for new trial, as
amended, alleging the trial court erred in allowing him to
proceed pro se without first establishing that he made a
knowing, intelligent, and voluntary waiver of his right to
counsel. After conducting a hearing on the motion, the trial
court denied Rutledge's request for a new
trial. On appeal, Rutledge again argues that he
is entitled to a new trial because the trial court failed to
make a finding in the record that Rutledge's waiver of
his right to counsel was knowingly and voluntarily made.
Because the totality of the record demonstrates that
Rutledge's decision to waive his right to counsel was
knowing, intelligent, and voluntary, we disagree and affirm.
well established that "both the federal and state
constitutions guarantee a criminal defendant the right to
self-representation. To be valid, a defendant's waiver of
his right to be represented by counsel must be knowingly and
intelligently made." State v. Evans, 285 Ga.
67, 68 (673 S.E.2d 243) (2009) (citations and punctuation
omitted). To establish waiver, our Supreme Court has held
that "[t]he record need only reflect that the accused
was made aware of the dangers of self-representation and
nevertheless made a knowing and intelligent waiver."
Jones v. State, 272 Ga. 884, 886 (2) (536 S.E.2d
511) (2000) (citations and punctuation omitted). "The
trial judge is not required to use any particular language in
making the defendant aware of his right to counsel and the
dangers of self-representation." Martin-Argaw v.
State, 343 Ga.App. 864, 867 (2) (806 S.E.2d 247) (2017)
(citations omitted). However, "when a defendant
challenges an alleged waiver on appeal, it is the State's
burden to prove that the defendant received sufficient
information and guidance from the trial court upon which to
knowingly and intelligently relinquish this right."
Hamilton v. State, 233 Ga.App. 463, 467 (1) (b) (504
S.E.2d 236) (1998) (citations omitted). "This evidence
must overcome the presumption against waiver."
Id. (citations omitted). "The trial court's
ruling as to whether the defendant's waiver of the right
to counsel was valid is reviewed for abuse of
discretion." Cox v. State, 317 Ga.App. 654, 654
(732 S.E.2d 321) (2012) (footnote omitted).
these guiding principles in mind, the record shows that
Rutledge was charged with one count of aggravated stalking
after sending text messages to his former wife in violation
of a temporary restraining order that prohibited him from
having any direct or indirect contact with her. At his
arraignment hearing, Rutledge was appointed counsel, entered
a plea of not guilty, and was presented with a copy of the
indictment, a list of the State's witnesses, and a plea
offer letter. Rutledge later appeared with his appointed
counsel, William Rhodes, for a status hearing where he was
advised of the nature of the charge against him and the range
of allowable punishment for the charge. On the morning of
trial, Rutledge appeared with Rhodes to argue pre-trial
motions. After the trial court denied Rutledge's
pre-trial motions, Rutledge, through counsel, announced that
he wanted to proceed with a jury trial. The court recessed
and Rutledge was taken back to a holding area where he spoke
with Rhodes and indicated that he wanted to represent
himself. Following a conference between the trial court and
Rhodes, Rutledge told the trial court that he and Rhodes were
"on a different page" with respect to certain
evidence and how it would be used during the trial. The trial
court then told Rutledge that Rhodes is "an experienced
trial attorney" and "has a comprehensive
understanding of . . . the law." Rutledge responded that
"there seems to be unsurety[sic] as far as, you know, us
moving forward, the case as far as a plea as opposed to a
jury trial." The trial court then reminded Rutledge that
there are times when attorneys tell their clients things that
the client does not want to hear, but that if Rutledge wanted
a trial, Rhodes would provide the best defense possible. The
trial court asked Rutledge what he wanted the court to do.
Rhodes then stated on the record that he explained to
Rutledge he had the option to continue the trial, ask for new
appointed counsel, or represent himself with Rhodes as
standby counsel. The following exchange occurred between
Rutledge and the trial court:
RUTLEDGE: I wish to proceed pro se and with standby counsel.
TRIAL COURT: You are seriously going to embark on a jury
trial representing yourself?
RUTLEDGE: It's my case, Your Honor.
TRIAL COURT: That wasn't my question.
RUTLEDGE: Yes, sir.
TRIAL COURT: So the answer is yes.
RUTLEDGE: Yes, sir.
TRIAL COURT: Are you prepared to do ...