When you face a criminal charge, the judge will ask you how you plan on pleading. While the most common choices are pleading guilty or not guilty, there are other options too, and one of these is to plead no contest. Pleading no contest may have its benefits, but it is important to fully understand what this means before you decide to use this plea option.
It means you are not pleading guilty or not guilty
If you really do not want to plead guilty and admit guilt for the crime or not-guilty and state that you are innocent, you could choose to plead no contest. What this means is that you are saying you are neither guilty nor innocent.
It is more similar to pleading guilty than pleading not guilty
One thing you should realize is that if you are pleading no contest, it means that you are stating, in a sense, that you are not innocent of the crime. Because of this, when you plead no contest, it is more similar to pleading guilty than to pleading not guilty, and this is something you really need to know before you use this plea.
This plea cannot be used as evidence in the case
One of the benefits of pleading no contest is that the prosecutor handling the case cannot use this plea against you as evidence. In other words, the prosecution cannot tell the judge or jury that they must consider this no contest plea as an admission of guilt. They simply cannot do that, which means that this plea might not really go against you in any way.
This plea is often part of the plea-bargaining process
The other thing to understand is that pleading no contest is not commonly used; however, it is used often in the plea-bargaining process. A plea of no contest can give the prosecution some room to work to get the case closed, and a prosecutor will often offer a defendant reduced charges and consequences if he or she will plead no contest. If you plead guilty to the crime, though, you might get a better deal through a plea bargain and you should talk to your lawyer about this.
If you are not sure which plea would be the best option for your case, talk to a criminal defense lawyer. A lawyer can give you legal advice about your situation and can explain all the options to you that you have.
For more information, contact a criminal defense attorney.