What Does It Mean When You Plead No Contest?
In many criminal defense cases, a courtroom battle with prosecutors on the other side and a judge and jury watching is not actually what is best for the defendant. When there is overwhelming evidence against the defendant, or reason to believe that a conviction will bring the steepest of possible penalties, the right choice might be to seek a conclusion that does not go to trial but also does not admit guilt directly. In such situations, a “nolo contendere” or no contest plea might be ideal.
Not Putting Up a Fight But Not Giving In
When you plead no contest, you are simply saying that you are not going to put up the effort to fight your charges all the way the courtroom. You are not admitting any guilt. This is a bit of a legal middle ground that can end up benefitting all parties involved.
The state can save significant resources, money, and time by accepting your no contest plea. Everything usually involved in organizing a trial will be set aside. However, you should not do the state such a favor for nothing in exchange. The point of a no contest plea is also securing a minimized penalties. For example, many no contest pleas are presented by the defense counsel with the stipulation that the plea will only be put forth if a felony charge is dropped down to a misdemeanor.
In many regards, a no contest plea functions the same as a guilty plea deal but without ever pleading guilty. This is a significant difference in the eyes of many professional organizations and financial institutions. When asked if you have been convicted of a crime, you can legally state that the conviction was only secured due to your no contest plea, and that nothing on the record shows you were actually guilty of the allegations.
Using a No Contest Plea Effectively
No contest pleas can seem like an amazing way to quickly close up a criminal defense case but they must be used carefully. Trying to get a no contest plea but having it denied might only motivate the prosecution to work even harder on your case. Although, your attempt to use a no contest or guilty plea deal cannot be used as evidence or construed as an admission of guilt.
If there is a chance you can fight the charges to a not guilty verdict or case dismissal, you really should explore it to the fullest. The benefits of completely avoiding conviction are monumental compared to using a no contest plea deal. At Joey Gilbert Law, our Reno criminal defense attorneys bring decades of combined legal experience to every case we handle. We would be happy to help you know more about your rights and legal options during a free initial consultation. Contact our firm at any time to schedule one at your first convenience.