Pleading Guilty vs. No Contest: Understanding the Difference

Those who are unfamiliar with the legal process often make the mistake of assuming guilty pleas and no contest pleas are interchangeable. While it is true that they are treated the same way when it comes to sentencing and conviction, they are actually quite different in many other ways. In today’s blog post we’re looking at the way deciding to plead no contest versus deciding to plead guilty will impact you and your case.

What is a Guilty Plea?

By pleading guilty, you admit that you committed the crime in question and you accept the charges. People often plead guilty to avoid the stress and expense of a trail if they know they are, in fact, guilty and the state has a strong case against them. If you decide to plead guilty, you need to make sure you understand the charges against you as well as the consequences of your plea. You should also understand what rights you give up with this decision. You’ll have to answer some questions in front of the judge to demonstrate that you have a full understanding of what you are doing.

A guilty fee may be advantageous if:

  • The court case is likely to garner unwanted media attention
  • The court case will likely drag on for a long time
  • You and your lawyer expect a guilty conviction from a jury

What is a No Contest Plea?

This is another way to resolve a criminal case without a trial. However, with a no contest plea, you are not admitting guilt, but rather just accepting the consequences as if you were guilty. As with a guilty plea, you will have to answer some questions in front of a judge to demonstrate that you understand what you are doing and the consequences.

A no contest plea may be advantageous if:

  • You don’t want to go to trial but don’t want to admit guilt

What About Plea Bargains?

Those involved in a potential criminal trial can sometimes benefit from plea bargains. If you agree to end the trial process with one of these pleas, you can sometimes make a deal to get a lesser sentence or certain charges dropped. Depending on the crime, if you did not bail out earlier, you may be able to be released altogether or on probation in exchange for the plea bargain. Authorities will often push for a bargain so they can make more space on the court docket and minimize their own legal fees.

Is a plea right for me?

Pleading guilty or no contest may be right for you, but it truly depends on your unique situation. For some, a plea is not a good option because they’ll face immigration consequences, because the charges are unreasonable, because they have a strong chance of victory in court, or for a handful of other reasons. If you have been (or expect to be) charged with any crime, it is important to discuss your situation with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The Bobby Barina Law team is here to help. Give us a call  today at (254) 523-4446.