The Alford plea is when a defendant, in effect, pleads “no contest” to charges, but does admit guilt during the courtroom prosecution. It is very similar to a “no contest” plea in the acceptance of guilt. However, the “no contest” is for a defendant who will accept punishment without admitting guilt.
Not all states allow a defendant to plead “no contest”, including the state of Alabama.
The purpose of pleading “no contest” is to avoid being sued civilly for essentially confessing to a crime.
An Alford plea is not the same as a guilty plea, it is the admission of guilt in a crime. The Alford pleas is a guilty plea by a defendant who claims to be innocent of the crime for which he is accused.
Many times in an Alford plea, the evidence against a person may be deemed too strong to go to trial. In these cases, the chance of a jury conviction and a stronger punishment may be enough to plead guilty.
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.
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.
Another difference is that with a “no contest” plea, you cannot be sued civilly for the crime. The Alford plea does not protect a defendant from a civil lawsuit.
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