To an outsider, guilty pleas and no contest pleas often look identical. When it comes to sentencing and conviction, they are treated the same way. However, each option can produce substantially different outcomes, so it’s important to understand how either choice will affect you. 

Defining a Guilty Plea

When you plead guilty, you are admitting your guilt and accepting the charges brought against you. This may prevent you from the stress of a court trial and allow you to accept a plea bargain. Before you can enter a guilty plea, you must understand the charges brought against you, understand the consequences of your plea, and know which rights you are giving up by pleading guilty. This involves going before the judge and answering questions to prove that you know exactly what you’re admitting to and what consequences you face.

Understanding a No Contest Plea

A no contest plea, much like a guilty plea, resolves a criminal case without trial. The primary difference between a guilty plea and a no contest plea is that a no contest plea does not admit guilt. The plea you accept or the sentence you receive based upon a no contest plea will likely be the same as a guilty plea, and you will be required to answer the same questions in front of the Judge.

Plea Bargains

Plea bargains can potentially benefit everyone involved in a criminal trial. Defendants may be able to avoid the stress of trial and receive a lighter sentence or reduced charges by pleading guilty or no contest. This frees up space on the court docket and can reduce legal fees. For defendants who are not allowed to bail out, or who do not have the funds to bail out,  they may be released all together or get out on probation after accepting a plea bargain.

Advantages of Each Option

There are countless ways a guilty, no contest, or not guilty plea can affect the course of your criminal case and your entire future. Pleading guilty is advantageous in some circumstances. For example, it may be recommended if a case has the potential to attract substantial unwanted media attention, is likely to drag on for several years, or is likely to result in a guilty conviction after trial.

A no contest plea may be advantageous if you want to resolve the case in a plea bargain, but don’t want to have to admit you committed any crime.  However, it is important to note, as previously stated, that the result will remain the same whether by an admission of guilt or a no contest plea. 

The benefit of a resolution, by plea, is avoiding the uncertainty of trial and a quicker end to the case. But, pleading guilty or no contest is not always the best solution; especially when the prosecution is offering an unreasonable plea, or if you will face immigration consequences as a result, or  if you have not done what they are accusing you of doing. Regardless of which options you are considering, remember that you should always consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney so that you can understand the options and make the right choice for you. 

When your future is on the line, you need an attorney who will fight aggressively for your rights and provide clear legal advice. Call Puglisi Law at 305-403-8063 now to schedule your free phone consultation.