Why Would You Enter A No Contest Plea?

When facing a criminal charge, one of the first things you will be asked to do is to enter your plea. The common pleas are "guilty" and "not guilty;" most people are familiar with these pleas. There is also a third plea, however, that many people don't understand well – "no contest." By entering a no contest plea (nolo contendere in legal lingo), you are telling the court that you neither agree to or deny the charges against you.

This is a peculiar plea indeed, so why would one go down that route? Here are some of the benefits that stem from a no contest plea:

You Avoid (Bad) Trial Publicity

By entering a no contest plea, you are leaving the court to make up its own mind regarding your guilt. In practical terms, the court will deem you guilty of the crime without trying you. This is an advantage if you want to avoid the publicity that your trial may elicit.

As you know, most criminal trials are open to the public (including reporters). At the same time, you expect your life to be turned upside down by the prosecutor in their attempt to convict you. If there are some aspects of your life that you would wish to remain private, then taking the no contest route will give you the means to do just that.

You Avoid the Uncertainty of a Lengthy Trial

No one can guarantee you any form of outcome after a lengthy criminal trial. Note that it isn't just the facts of the case that will determine the outcome of your trial. Other issues such as your character, jury composition, new evidence, and even the credibility of your witnesses may swing the case either way. By entering a no contest plea, you are forcing the judge to make up his or her mind using just the facts at hand. As a result, you avoid the uncertainty of the case that you would have to deal with in a lengthy trial.

The Conviction Will Not Be Used as Evidence in a Civil Trial

One of the best things about a no contest plea is that although you will be convicted and sentenced, your conviction will not be used against you in a subsequent civil trial. This is a great advantage if you are facing both a criminal and civil (such as a personal injury case) stemming from the same alleged act. Note that some jurisdictions allow some forms of no contest pleas to be used as evidence in civil lawsuits.

A no contest plea is something you should only consider after talking to a criminal attorney firm, such as Cooper & Bayless PA. This is because, for legal purposes, a no contest plea is the same as a guilty plea. Talk to your lawyer first to help you explore other options available for your case.