A no-contest plea is similar to a guilty plea, but they are not the same. With a no-contest plea, an individual accepts a conviction but does not admit guilt for a crime. Comparatively, a guilty plea means a person accepts responsibility for a crime.
Simmrin Law Group can put you in touch with a criminal defense attorney who can explain no-contest and guilty pleas in detail. Our attorney can help you determine if you should submit a no-contest or guilty plea. Plus, our lawyer can answer common questions about both types of pleas.
What Is a No-Contest Plea?
A plea of no contest indicates a defendant is approving a conviction relating to a criminal charge. At the same time, the defendant is doing so without actually taking full responsibility for a crime. In addition, the defendant faces jail or prison time or other legal consequences.
If a defendant files a no-contest plea, a judge will verify that this individual understands the ramifications of their actions. Also, the judge will notify the defendant that their no-contest plea may be treated in the same way as a guilty one. The defendant must admit that their no-contest plea is being entered knowingly and voluntarily.
For those who plead no contest in a misdemeanor case, the plea cannot be used as an admission of guilt. In a felony case, a no-contest plea can be treated the same way as a guilty one. Meanwhile, in instances where a defendant pleads guilty, this individual may be able to negotiate a plea bargain.
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What Is a Guilty Plea?
By filing a guilty plea, you are admitting guilt for a crime. This requires you to testify under oath that you are responsible for a crime. You also knowingly and intelligently enter the guilty plea and understand that you are waiving certain rights by doing so.
If you submit a guilty plea, you waive your right to the following:
- Having a counsel at your side
- Undergoing a jury trial
- Not incriminating yourself
- Confronting and cross-examining anyone who accused you of a crime
Following the submission of a guilty plea, a judge will accept it. At this point, you are sentenced for your crime. Once you fulfill your sentence, you can move past your crime.
What Are the Pros and Cons of a No-Contest Plea?
It can be beneficial to submit a no-contest plea if you lack sufficient evidence to dispute any claims against you. The plea can help you minimize your legal costs, since there may be no trial. Also, the plea may allow you to receive a lighter sentence than you would if you went to trial.
On the other hand, a no-contest plea forces you to give up your right to a jury trial. If you have a strong case, you lose the right to present it to a jury. Instead, you accept a conviction that will stay with you for the rest of your life.
The conviction that comes with a no-contest plea can also impact your ability to land a job in certain industries. On top of that, the conviction can affect your ability to live in certain locations and in child custody cases. People may even believe that you are guilty of a crime, even if you did not commit it.
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What Are the Pros and Cons of a Guilty Plea?
A guilty plea closes a case. It may allow a defendant to accept a plea bargain, leading to a lesser sentence than what could be delivered during a trial. There are times when a defendant can have their conviction expunged as part of a guilty plea, too.
With a guilty plea, there is no possibility a defendant will be found “not guilty.” The defendant fully admits to being guilty of a crime and accepts the punishment that goes along with it. As such, the defendant is forced to live with an admission of guilt, regardless of whether this individual committed a crime.
There is also a risk of coercion with a guilty plea. For example, a defendant may face financial pressure to accept a guilty plea to avoid a lengthy and expensive trial. Due to this pressure, the defendant may accept guilt for a crime, despite the fact that this individual may actually be innocent.
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Should You Submit a No-Contest or Guilty Plea?
Consult with an attorney if you are involved in a criminal case and considering a no-contest or guilty plea. You can partner with a criminal defense attorney who can get you up to speed on both types of pleas and what they represent. Your lawyer can give you insights into all of your legal options and help you figure out the best course of action.
There can be times when it is in a defendant’s best interest to submit a no-contest or guilty plea, or neither. A criminal defense lawyer allocates the time, energy, and resources necessary to understand all aspects of a defendant’s case. This allows the attorney to provide the defendant with a personalized recommendation on how to proceed with their case.
If a defendant and their attorney decide to forgo a no-contest or guilty plea, they will work together to build the strongest case possible. The defendant and their lawyer will gather evidence and witness testimony and consider how to present a compelling case in court. They will remain diligent, to the point where they can show a judge or jury why any charges against the defendant should be reduced or dismissed.
How Can You Decide Between a No-Contest or Guilty Plea and Other Legal Options?
At Simmrin Law Group, we provide immediate access to a criminal defense attorney who understands the complexities of the legal system. Our lawyer can take a look at your case and help you decide if a no-contest or guilty plea or other legal options should be considered. Please contact us today to find out more or request a free case evaluation.