What is a No Contest Plea?
If you are charged with a crime, there are a few ways the process could unfold. The charges could be dismissed prior to you ever needing to appear in court, or you could enter a guilty plea to avoid a trial. If you face trial, the judge and jury will either find you guilty or not guilty of the charges brought against you.
While these are common scenarios, there is also another option available to avoid a lengthy trial: entering a no contest plea. Sometimes, the evidence is against you, and it makes sense to accept a plea bargain in order to prevent further damage to you and your reputation. A no contest plea has its benefits and drawbacks.
After being charged, you might decide you want to learn more about whether or not to enter a no contest plea and discuss the circumstances surrounding your case with a lawyer. If you decide to reach out to a Nevada criminal defense lawyer, our team is ready to help. At De Castroverde Criminal & Immigration Lawyers, we can discuss what your legal options are after charges are brought against you.
Defining a No Contest Plea
A no contest plea occurs when a criminal defendant determines that they will not contest the charges or a single charge brought against them. A no contest plea waives your right to a trial, and the judge and jury are to sentence you as if you were found guilty of the crime. So, why would you want to enter a no contest plea?
A no contest plea:
- Is not an admission of guilt
- Eliminates a lengthy and sometimes very public trial
- Offers some protection from lawsuits
- May lead to reduced sentencing
By pleading no contest, it is likely that you will still face fines and jail time. While this can seem alarming, the goal is to have your sentence reduced if it seems as though the trial will not be favorable to you. Your attorney can answer any questions regarding a no contest plea prior to one being submitted.
Is a No Contest Plea Right for You?
A no contest plea is not right for everyone and will depend on the nature of the crime committed and the evidence presented by the prosecution. If you believe that you were innocent of the charges brought against you, then it is better to plead not guilty and force the jury to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were, in fact, guilty of the crime.
However, there are times when heading to trial is unlikely to produce favorable results, and entering a no contest plea is the best option you have for facing a reduced sentence. If your attorney feels this is the likely scenario, they may suggest discussing a plea bargain with the judge and prosecution. By doing this, your attorney will work on your behalf to prevent a trial in exchange for a lesser punishment.
In the event that you were involved in an incident that could lead to a civil suit, then it could be beneficial for you to forego a trial and plead no contest. By doing this, you are preventing another party from easily presenting you with a lawsuit and winning. The reason for this is:
- You never admitted guilt
- You were never proven guilty in a court of law
Because you are not found guilty when you plead no contest, anyone who wants to sue you is faced with proving that you were the reason for their injuries or suffering. This does not mean that their lawsuit will not have success, but it does increase your chances of a better outcome.
For instance, if you were charged with a DUI and someone was injured during the timeframe you were driving, you may want to plead no contest. This places the burden of proof on the injured party. They must present factual evidence that proves you were the reason for their injuries, and they cannot use your no contest plea as proof of anything. It will be excluded from the trial.
Judges Do Not Need to Accept a No Contest Plea
A judge must accept a plea of guilty, but they do not need to accept a plea of no contest. In this event, the judge could determine that a trial should take place, and, at that point, you must stand trial as the prosecution tries to prove your guilt.
In addition to the judge, the prosecutor could decide not to accept a no contest plea as part of a plea deal. This leaves you with the choice of either standing trial or pleading guilty. If you plead guilty, you will forego a trial, and could still see a more favorable sentence depending on the nature of your charges. However, your guilty plea can be used if a civil lawsuit were brought against you.
Contact De Castroverde Criminal & Immigration Lawyers Today
Our attorneys at De Castroverde Criminal & Immigration Lawyers, are here to help. Our team is committed to doing what is best for our clients. After charges are brought against you, we want to be sure you know what legal options are available to you. If we believe that you should plead no contest, we will explain why this is your best option and how it may benefit you moving forward.
For more information about how our criminal defense attorneys in Nevada can help you with a no contest plea, contact us today to request a legal case evaluation.