What does “no-contest” mean?
When you plead no contest, you are not contesting the facts of the case.
But “no-contest” is not an admission of guilt.
It is simply an acknowledgment of the details of the charges brought against you.
Pleading no contest means that you do not admit your guilt.
But you do admit the truth of the facts of the indictment, the information, or the complaint.
A plea is a person’s formal response to a criminal charge or offense.
The person charged with the crime or offense is called the defendant.
The defendant can choose from pleas of:
When you plead no contest, the judge enters your plea to the court.
“Entering a plea” refers to the judge submitting the plea into the court’s official file.
When you plead no contest, you’re telling the courts, “I do not wish to contest.”
You are not admitting guilt by pleading no contest.
But this tells the court that you do not want to go to trial for the charges.
And it allows them to determine a punishment for the charges.
The punishment will result in a criminal conviction on your record.
But the no contest plea does not automatically get accepted.
There is a three-step process when entering a no-contest plea:
Earlier, we mentioned that pleading no contest means you’re not admitting guilt.
But that does not mean the judge won’t find you guilty.
Pleading no contest means that you will be found guilty.
And the judge will provide you with your sentence.
Let’s talk about the difference between guilty and no contest.
Pleading guilty means that you:
And pleading guilty means the court can go ahead and punish you for your crimes.
But the courts will also make sure that:
Pleading no contest means you do not admit guilt for the crime.
But you’re not denying the facts of the case.
Pleading no contest is the same as pleading guilting.
Meaning you will still receive the same punishments or sentencing.
When you are pleading no contest, the judge will hold a conversation with you.
And try to determine why you are pleading no contest instead of guilty or not guilty.
There is a chance that the judge may give you a lesser sentence.
At least, compared to going to a jury trial to fight your case.
Let’s look at an example of pleading no contest.
Let’s say you were involved in an accident and you were drunk driving.
In this accident, you injured the people in the other car.
You will have criminal charges of DUI.
And you will have civil charges of personal injuries.
There are three options in this case:
If you go to trial, they can find you guilty.
If you plead no-contest to the DUI, there is no legal proof of guilt.
And there is no admission of guilt on your behalf.
This means that the civil case cannot use the guilty verdict in their civil case.
But what if you did plead guilty, or were found guilty, in the DUI?
The guilty verdict can be used in the civil proceeding.
They use it as evidence of the driver’s liability.
You’re probably wondering why someone would plead no contest.
Especially if the punishment is the same as pleading guilty.
The real difference is that pleading no contest keeps you out of litigation.
This is because you’re not going to court to battle your charges.
When you go to court to fight the charges, you will spend thousands in attorney fees.
This is because you need an attorney to:
Depending on your scenario, it may be worth fighting instead of pleading no contest.
You need to decide if it’s worth fighting your charges in court.
There is one benefit to pleading no contest to misdemeanor charges.
Let’s say you have criminal and civil charges against you.
Pleading no contest to misdemeanor criminal charges benefits you in the civil charges.
This is because pleading no contest to misdemeanor charges is not an admission of guilt.
If you had pleaded guilty, the civil case would not need to prove your guilt.
Because you had already admitted it in the criminal charges.
But if you are pleading no contest, then the civil case still needs to prove guilt.
Pleading no contest means that you will be convicted of the crime.
Pleading no contest does not admit guilt.
But choosing not to contest the charges results in a conviction.
So, yes, a no contest is a conviction.
Wondering how long does a no-contest plea stay on your record?
No contest pleas stay on your record for life.
No contest pleas do not get dismissed.
That is unless you have the no-contest plea expunged from your record.
But, you only get one misdemeanor and one felony expungement.
If you have used them before, a no-contest plea cannot get expunged.
And the no-contest plea will stay on your record forever.
Pleading no contest does not lead to a lighter punishment.
A no-contest plea has the same effect as a guilty plea.
This is because the judge finds you guilty with a no-contest plea.
So, your sentencing will be the same with whether you plead no contest or guilty.