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What is a “No-Contest” Plea?

Posted in Criminal Defense,General FAQ'S on March 24, 2020

There are various ways that a person can be found guilty after being charged with a crime. This could include a jury finding a defendant guilty after a trial. However, a person is more likely to be found guilty after actually pleading guilty before going to trial. However, there are times when prosecutors or judges will agree to let a person plead “nolo contendere,” or “no-contest.”

What is a "no contest" plea?

Implications of “No-contest” Pleas in Civil Court?

For all intents and purposes, a no-contest plea that has the same implications is a guilty plea for the defendant. Generally, the defendant will receive a conviction and a sentence after pleading no-contest. The biggest difference between a guilty plea and a no-contest plea is that the defendant is accepting the punishment without actually admitting guilt for the crime.

Could it be used against me?

The main benefit of a no-contest plea is that there will be no admission of guilt to use against a defendant if they later face civil action for the same incident.

Why would this be more beneficial than a traditional guilty plea?

For example, suppose that two people, Jack and Bobby, get into a fight. Suppose Jack fared much better in the fight and was charged with assault and battery by the prosecutor. Jack may also face a civil lawsuit from Bobby for personal injury due to the assault.

If Jack pleads no-contest in the criminal charge, he will still likely face some form of punishment. However, because he did not admit guilt by pleading guilty, Bobby will not be able to use an admission of guilt as evidence that Jack committed the assault in his civil case.

Benefits of a No-contest Plea

Aside from the primary benefit of no admission of guilt being able to be used against a defendant in a civil case, there are some other advantages to a no-contest plea. These can include:

  • Avoiding publicity associated with lengthy trials, particularly if the defendant is well-known in the community.
  • Avoiding costly legal fees of going to trial.
  • Taking the blame for another person to avoid their investigation and prosecution.
  • Expediting the process to get to a lesser charge when the defendant is facing serious charges.
  • Taking a lighter sentence from a judge for a lesser charge rather than face the uncertainty of a harsher punishment by taking the case to trial.

It needs to be noted that even if a defendant pleads no-contest for a crime, the crime itself can still be treated as an “aggravating factor” if the defendant commits a future crime.

Speak to a Defense Attorney

If you or somebody you love has been charged with a crime, you need to seek legal assistance as soon as possible. The skilled criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Graham Donath, APC are ready to get to work on your case today. We will investigate every aspect of the charges against you and work to secure the best possible outcome for your situation. While we will work to get the charges dismissed altogether, we will also explore options for guilty pleas and no-contest pleas. When you need a skilled California criminal defense attorney, you can contact us for a consultation on your case by clicking here or by calling as soon as possible.