When you’re charged with a crime, you have the option to plea, guilty, not guilty, or no contest. While guilty and not guilty are pretty straightforward, pleading no contest is another beast altogether.
Today on the blog, we walk you through what it means to plead no contest, the pros and cons of pleading no contest, and when and how you should use a no contest plea.
If you are currently facing criminal charges in Missouri and would like to speak with a criminal defense lawyer in Springfield about your case, don’t hesitate to give Missouri Legal a call today.
What it Means to Plead No Contest
As previously stated, when you are charged with a crime you have three options for how you would like to plead, guilty, not guilty, or no contest (you can also plead not guilty by reason of insanity, but that is a whole other topic). When a person enters into a plea, this is referred to as the judge’s act of formally noting the defendant’s plea into the official court file.
Entering a no contest plea, also known as “nolo contendere” or just “nolo” for short, is similar to entering a guilty plea with a few advantages.
While a no contest plea does mean that you are not admitting your guilt, it does mean that you are admitting that the facts alleged in the complaint against you are true. When you plead no contest, you are essentially giving up your right to defend yourself and the case will move straight to the sentencing period without going through to trial. This is where a no contest plea, feels very similar to pleading guilty in a criminal case.
Once you plead no contest, your case will be moved to the sentencing portion where the court will sentence you as if you had pleaded guilty to the crimes alleged in your case. At this point, you may be wondering why you would want to plead no contest then and what, if any are the benefits, to giving up your right to a defense? Let us explain.
When & Why Would A Person Want To Plead No Contest
More often than not, your Springfield criminal defense attorney will want to weigh all of your options before deciding to go through with a no contest plea. However, here are some reasons that you may want to consider this plea:
- You want to avoid the conviction being used against you if a civil action is taken. A no contest plea makes it so that your case (it must be a misdemeanor case) cannot be used against you during a civil case in the future.
- You wish to avoid a trial.
- You aren’t confident that you would win your case.
- You want details of your case to remain hidden from the public record.
Regardless of the reasons that you wish to plead no contest, this plea agreement is often only beneficial for misdemeanor cases or minor infractions where civil action may be taken.
Since the laws in Missouri are so nuanced, talk about your options with an experienced criminal defense attorney before making any decision in regards to how you will plea. Sometimes, it takes a different set of eyes to see the strengths and weaknesses of your case, even if you don’t believe you can win.
So, Should I Plead No Contest?
No contest may seem like a good idea if you believe you have no other options, however, the way in which you decide to plead is extremely important to your future and could affect your personal and professional life for years to come. Before deciding anything, speak with a criminal defense attorney who is familiar with your case.
Remember, you are innocent until proven guilty, and while a plea bargain may seem like the best idea at the time, misdemeanor and felony charges are always worth fighting.
Pleading no contest means that you are giving up the following:
- The right to a speedy and public trial by a jury of your peers.
- The right to see, hear and cross-examine all of the witnesses.
- Your right to an appeal.
In addition to losing the rights listed above, you will also face the full penalties and conviction that you would have if you had pleaded guilty to the charges. At Missouri Legal, this is never the outcome we want one of our clients to face.
Before Entering A Plea, Contact Missouri Legal
Before entering any kind of plea, whether it be guilty, not guilty, or a no contest plea you need to speak with one of our experienced attorneys at Missouri Legal. We help our clients to either get their charges reduced or dismissed altogether without having to deal with the penalties that come along with a conviction. The bottom line is that when a person pleads “no contest”, he or she will still face a conviction. Which can lead to much bigger problems down the road.
To learn more about how we can help you and your case, call us today for a free consultation.
We are here to help.