Understanding The Three Main Types Of Criminal Pleas

10 April 2015
 Categories: Law, Blog


Taking a plea means answering a factual question of whether or not you have done what the prosecution accuses you of doing. The three forms of possible answers are:


By entering a guilty plea, you are admitting to committing the offenses that the prosecution has leveled against you. This is a serious plea that can attract the maximum penalty stipulated by the law. Therefore, you should never enter a guilty plea without consulting your lawyer first.

Another reason you should consult your defense team before entering a guilty plea is that withdrawing the plea is a process. You just don't walk up to the judge and tell him or her about your change of mind. Depending on the laws of your state, you may have to file a motion and explain to the judge why you are changing your mind. It is then up to the judge to allow or deny your plea change depending on a number of factors such as your reasons for withdrawing the plea.

Not Guilty

This being the negation of a guilty plea, it means that you are denying committing the crimes that the prosecution has charged you with. Once you make this plea, then the judge will set a trial date. This is because a not guilty plea places the burden is on the prosecution to prove their case and show that you are indeed guilty of the alleged crimes.

No Contest Plea

Also known by the fancy legal term nolo contendre, a no contest plea is an acceptance of the punishment for the corresponding crime without admitting or denying that you committed them. Essentially, you are allowing the state to punish you without challenging the prosecution's accusations, but you aren't admitting to committing them too.

If you are still punished, doesn't this mean that you are guilty? In a way, it is the same as admitting that you are guilty, but it also differs because your conviction cannot be used against you in a civil lawsuit. For example, if you enter a nolo contendre to a DUI that resulted in an accident, then your condition cannot be used to prove your guilt when a personal injury case is brought against you.

However, you don't have a legal right to enter a no contest plea. You request for it, the judge examines the circumstances of your case and either grants or denies the plea.

As a defendant, you will be required to make a plea at a certain stage of your case. If you fail to do so, then the state will assume that you are denying guilt and enter the corresponding not guilty plea on your behalf. If you don't have a lawyer, or don't know which plea to make, just enter a not guilty plea and consult one. For more information, contact Kalasnik Law Office or a similar firm.