When an individual is charged with a crime, he or she will often plead
“not guilty” or “guilty.” A “not guilty”
plea is entered if a person feels he or she is innocent of the charges.
A “guilty” plea, by contrast, is entered if a person believes
he or she committed the crime.
On the other hand, a defendant will plead “nolo contendere”
or “no contest.” A no contest plea is similar to a guilty
plea; however, the defendant is not going to fight the charges but is
not admitting guilt. Since a no contest plea tells the court that the
defendant does not wish to go to trial for the charge, it allows the court
to determine a punishment for the charge, which is often not a lighter sentence.
Although this option may not sound appealing at first, there are several
reasons to avoid trial with a no contest plea.
The following are advantages of pleading no contest to criminal charges:
- Since a no contest plea results in not having a criminal trial, which can
be beneficial if the outcome of the case is uncertain or if the defendant
does not wants the facts of the case available to the public.
- In regard to infraction or misdemeanor cases where civil action may be
involved, a no contest plea in a misdemeanor criminal case cannot be used
as evidence against the defendant in a civil case. Keep in mind, a no
contest plea in a felony criminal case can be used as evidence against
the defendant in a civil case.
If the defendant is given the choice between either pleading guilty or
no contest, the prosecution may offer him or her a plea bargain. In a
plea bargain, the prosecution may insist that the defendant plead guilty
rather than no contest, which may result in a reduced charge or reduced
Ultimately, varying and complex rules mean that you should consult an experience
criminal defense attorney to understand the consequences of any kind of plea in a given case.
For more information,
contact our Ventura criminal defense attorney at The Law Offices of Jarrod M.
Wilfert for more information today.