You may have heard the phrase used many times during television courtroom dramas. A defendant will stand and answer, ‘No contest” when asked how he pleads to a charge.
Pleading no-contest to a charge is similar to pleading guilty, however, there are some major differences. No-contest means that you are conceding guilt without admitting that you’re guilty. And when you make this plea, you will not be allowed to present a defense to the crime(s) of which you are accused.
There are some things to be aware of before taking this type of plea agreement. You must have the court’s permission to file this plea, and then only the judge can decide whether or not to accept the plea. Because you will waive your right to a trial, there will be no jury.
You and your attorney may decide that filing a no-contest plea is good idea if you think your case is weak. Also, this plea will keep the details of your case private, which is the case with no trial.
If you plead no-contest to a criminal charge, you will have a conviction on your record just as if you had pled guilty or had been convicted at trial. One advantage of a no-contest plea is that it may not be used against you should there ever be a civil trial associated with your case.
A no-contest plea has the same effect as a guilty plea during the sentencing phase of a trial. So in this way, it is the same as pleading guilty. And, while the details will be kept private with a no-contest plea, you will still have a criminal record.
A no-contest plea, while not technically a guilty plea, has the same immediate effect as a guilty plea, and it is often offered as part of a plea bargain. In many jurisdictions, a plea of only contendere is not a right and carries various restrictions on its use.
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