Know The Facts About No Contest Pleas

Posted on: 14 March 2022

Everyone that gets arrested has choices to make. Some of those choices involve entering a plea after an arrest. To learn more about one of three possible pleas to enter, read on.

  1. Defendants must usually enter a plea soon after an arrest and many are unable to arrange for a criminal defense lawyer before the arraignment. However, know that pleas can be changed later.
  2. The arraignment is also the time to find out about bail amounts and discuss with the judge whether you need to use a public defender. You should know that it's probably worthwhile to go with a private attorney rather than use a public defender. They are often overworked with far too many cases to deal with to give your case the attention that is needed.
  3. At the arraignment, you will be asked to enter a plea of either not guilty, guilty or no contest. It's very rare to enter a guilty plea at this point and defense experts warn against doing so. Instead, they advise defendants to enter a plea of not guilty for the time being. Some may also choose to enter a plea of no contest, perhaps not understanding what that means.
  4. No contest, despite what some think, does not mean that you are undecided or need more information. It means that you have no opinion about your guilt or innocence and are leaving things up to the judge to decide. It means that you don't disagree with the charges but that you are not agreeing with them either. While you can change your plea later, it's not a good way to begin your case.
  5. Pleas can also be entered using a plea bargain. These deals may come about after an initial investigation by the state determines that the defendant could be open to one. With a plea bargain, the defendant pleads guilty to a certain charge. In some cases, the charge is reduced from the original charge (thus the bargain). It's vital for defendants to understand that they are giving up their rights to trial when they sign a plea bargain agreement. Defendants go before a judge, plead guilty, and are usually immediately sentenced. 

It cannot be emphasized enough the importance of having competent legal help after being arrested. The course your case takes is dependent on knowing how to make an informed decision about pleas of all types. Your criminal defense attorney will review the evidence and advise you about the potential outcomes of your choices, but the decisions are up to you. Speak to a criminal defense attorney to find out more.