What are the Differences Between a Plea of Not Guilty and No Contest in a Criminal Case?

Being charged with a crime can be a stressful and difficult situation. One of the first decisions you will need to make is what plea to enter. You can enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. A plea of guilty is fairly straight-forward. It means that you admit guilt and you take responsibility for the crime. You will thereby forego any type of hearing or trial and the only decision for the judge will be the punishment or penalties that will be imposed.

Not Guilty vs. No Contest Pleas

It is generally not advisable to enter a plea of guilty. You typically want to fight the charges, protect your rights and try to get the best possible outcome. Therefore, you will likely enter a plea of not guilty or no contest. Many people wonder what the difference is between a plea of not guilty and a plea of no contest.

When you enter a plea of not guilty it means that you formally deny the charges. With a plea of no contest, also known in the law as nolo contendere, you are neither admitting nor denying guilt. There are legal consequences for entering a plea, so it is helpful to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney before you formally enter one. There are both advantages and disadvantages to each type of plea. Therefore, you should not enter a plea until you fully understand the potential ramifications of your decision.

  • Not Guilty: A plea of not guilty is a denial of the charges. A not guilty plea results in a trial. In some instances, it can be difficult to defend a not guilty plea. You will need to provide evidence supporting your position in order to favorably resolve your case at trial.
  • No Contest: A plea of no contest may allow you the ability to avoid trial and at the same time not have the plea used against you later. A plea of no contest may be best suited for a defendant in a case that could result in civil litigation.

Guidance From a Reputable Criminal Defense Attorney

Every case is different and the charges and evidence are all unique in each situation. Therefore, you would be wise to seek the expertise of a skilled Brevard County criminal defense attorney before you enter a plea. Your attorney will review the details of your specific case and provide you with information that will help you make the best decision. You will generally be required to enter a plea during your first appearance. During this hearing the judge will tell you the exact charges against you and you will be asked for your plea. Your attorney can be present at your hearing to assist you and make sure that you understand the charges and plea that you enter.

If you are facing criminal charges, contact our Brevard County legal team at Henderson Legal Group to fight for your rights and defend your case.


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