Criminal Defense in Ventura County
Should I Make a No Contest Plea?

Should I Make a No Contest Plea?

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 penalties.

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.