At first, the pleas of “no contest” and “guilty” may sound like the same plea. If you’re pleading guilty, then you are accepting the consequences of the crime. And if you are pleading “no contest,” then this means you do not contest the charges against you and are therefore guilty, right?
In fact, in the state of California, there are times when it is actually better to plead guilty than “no contest.” One such time is if you are being charged with a DUI. You may want to talk to a DUI lawyer in Los Angeles to determine whether your case calls for a no contest plea.
California’s “No Contest” Plea
When you enter a plea in a criminal case, you can enter one of three pleas: guilty, not guilty, or the lesser known “no contest.” The state of California is a rarity in that most states don’t even allow you to plead “no contest” to a DUI charge. Some areas of California still prohibit it – it all depends on the judge.
Our lawyers here at the Simmrin Law Group are familiar with the local courts and can advise you on which judges will allow you to enter a no contest plea in the state of California.
Guilty vs. No Contest
If you plead guilty to a criminal charge in the state of California, you are not going to fight the charges against you and agree to accept whatever sentence the judge orders. If you plead not guilty, this means that you are claiming to be innocent of the charges against you, and you will need to stand trial.
If, however, you plead no contest, all you’re doing is saying you won’t fight the charges against you. It’s like shifting into neutral when driving. You’re not saying you’re innocent, but you’re not saying you’re guilty either. You will still be found guilty and sentenced if you enter a plea of no contest just the same as if you had pled guilty.
The Pros of a No Contest Plea
You may be thinking, why would anyone ever want to plead no contest? Simple: when you enter a no contest plea, you are not admitting guilt. Therefore, in order for the prosecution to find you guilty of the charges against you and/or liable for damages, they have to prove their case.
In other words, by pleading guilty, you do the work for the prosecution. A no contest plea means they have to work harder to prove you are guilty of what you are being accused of.
Of course, not every situation can benefit from a no contest plea. An experienced lawyer can review your case and advise whether it’s wise to enter a no contest plea in your particular situation.
When To Enter A Not Guilty Plea Instead
When a defendant pleads not guilty or no contest, it means they just want to be done with the whole ordeal. However, the case does not become as open-and-shut as they think it’s going to be. A conviction comes with consequences that can follow you around for years – possibly even for life.
You may want to speak with a lawyer before entering a plea so you can be sure you are using the right strategy. Your only chance to defend yourself is when you enter a plea of not guilty. Any other plea is a waiver of your right to a trial. Sometimes, a trial can be too risky and it’s better to plead guilty. A criminal defense lawyer can best advise you as to whether you should enter a not guilty plea.
Considering Entering A No Contest Plea? Call Us First!
Being charged with a crime can be draining and frightening to the point where you just want to take a no contest plea and be done with it. But this is your only shot to defend your case, and once you waive your right to a trial, that’s it.
Don’t make a decision that can haunt you for life when we’re here to help. Our criminal defense lawyers have a long history of helping people just like you. We’re here to review your case and help you decide which plea is the right path to take.
Fill out the form to the right, or call us at (310) 997-4688 to speak with a member of our highly experienced team. You will receive a free consultation, free of judgment and with no obligation to retain.