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Is Pleading “Guilty” the Same as Pleading “No Contest?” A Criminal Defense Attorney Answers

Many people are startled to hear that they have a third option besides pleading guilty or not guilty when they are faced with criminal accusations and must decide whether to enter a guilty or not guilty plea. How does this differ from entering a guilty plea? How is it similar?

Find out the answers to these and other questions you may have concerning no contest pleas by visiting the website or calling Law Office of Michael L. Fell at (949) 585-9055 to speak with a skilled criminal defense lawyer.

What a guilty plea means

When you enter a guilty plea, you are acknowledging that you committed the crime for which you are being prosecuted. You must enter a guilty plea in front of a judge in order for it to be recorded in the court file. This requires you to swear under oath that you know what you're accused of and that you did it.

You must persuade the judge that you are aware of the rights you are reneging on and that you are making your plea knowingly and wisely. They typically accomplish this by asking you about the specifics of your offense, whether you comprehend the implications of pleading guilty, and if you realize that doing so forfeits your rights to counsel, a jury trial, the opportunity to face your accuser, and the ability to remain silent. The case proceeds to the sentence phase when the court accepts the guilty plea.

What a plea of no contest means

In that you accept the penalties associated with a guilty plea, entering a plea of no contest is comparable to entering a plea of guilty. Just like with a guilty plea, the judge must accept the plea, ensure that you are entering the plea knowingly and freely, and that you understand what the plea entails and what it will accomplish. Additionally, they will let you know that a no contest plea is regarded by the courts as being equivalent to a guilty plea.

The primary distinction among the two

Although they might sound the same at this stage, they differ significantly in one important way: how they will impact any civil court actions. If someone enters a no contest plea to a misdemeanor violation, their no contest plea cannot be used against them in a civil lawsuit as an admission of guilt. In civil court, a no contest plea in a felony case is typically seen as a guilty plea.

Find out how to proceed by speaking with an attorney

Contact a criminal defense lawyer if you are facing criminal charges and are unsure of your legal options. By calling (949) 585-9055, you can reach Law Office of Michael L. Fell to schedule a free legal consultation. We can assist you in determining the best course for your future.