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Criminal defense

7/04/2024

No Contest Plea: What It Means and Why It Matters 

A no-contest plea is a statement made by a criminal defendant who neither admits nor denies the charges against them, but agrees to accept punishment. The defendant is acknowledging that the prosecution has enough evidence to convict them, but is avoiding admitting guilt. 

For sentencing purposes, the court treats a no-contest plea similarly to a guilty plea, but it cannot be used against the defendant in a civil case arising from the same circumstances. 

If the court accepts your plea, you will be found guilty and penalties will be imposed.  

Understanding the No Contest Plea 

A no contest plea is willing to accept the punishment involved with the case without admitting or denying guilt. The court must accept this plea and the judge must find the defendant guilty. If these circumstances are met, a no contest plea cannot be used against you in a civil suit. 

No Contest Plea vs Guilty Plea 

The distinction between guilty pleas and no contest pleas is significant, particularly in how they can impact civil proceedings. 

A guilty plea involves an admission of culpability for the offense in question. This admission can be used as evidence against the individual in both criminal and civil cases. 

While a no contest plea does not admit guilt but acknowledges that the evidence presented by the prosecution would likely result in a conviction. Importantly, a no contest plea cannot be used as an admission of liability in any civil suits associated with the same incident. 

Admission of Guilt 

If submitting an admission of guilt, you are accepting responsibility and punishment for a crime. This plea can be entered at a court appearance where the defendant is being formally charged and the defendant decides they would like to resolve this case instead of going to trial. This also means this case can be used against you in a civil suit.  

Impact on Future Civil Cases 

As stated above, no contest plea is not able to be used in civil suits. A guilty plea is able to be used in subsequent civil suits. 

Pros and Cons of a No Contest Plea 

Pros: 

  • Avoidance of Admission of Guilt: A no contest plea allows individuals to resolve criminal charges without admitting guilt. This can be advantageous in situations where admitting guilt might have negative effects in civil proceedings or professional licensing. 
  • Potential for Reduced Penalties: Courts may view a no contest plea favorably and consider it when determining sentencing and may lead to lighter penalties compared to a guilty plea. 
  • Preservation of Rights in Civil Cases: A no contest plea generally isn’t used as an admission of liability in civil lawsuits arising from the same incident, which helps protect the individual's interests in associated civil suits. 
  • Efficiency in Resolving Cases: Accepting a no contest plea may expedite the resolution of criminal charges. 
  • Negotiation Leverage: In plea negotiations, offering a no contest plea may sometimes provide a middle ground that satisfies both the defendant and the prosecution, facilitating a quicker resolution. 

Cons: 

  • Potential Stigma: Despite not admitting guilt, some individuals may perceive a no contest plea as an acknowledgment of wrongdoing, which could have social or reputational consequences. 
  • Limited Appeal Options: In some jurisdictions, accepting a no contest plea may limit the defendant's ability to appeal the conviction compared to contesting the charges in trial. 
  • Lack of Clarity in Outcome: While a no contest plea avoids the admission of guilt, it does not guarantee the outcome of any related civil cases, which could still proceed based on the evidence available. 
  • Impact on Sentencing: While courts may consider a no contest plea favorably, the outcome of sentencing is ultimately at the discretion of the judge, and penalties may still be significant depending on the circumstances of the case. 
  • Requirement of Explanation: Courts typically require an explanation of the reasons for entering a no contest plea, which may involve detailing the facts of the case and acknowledging the strength of the prosecution's evidence. 
  • Understanding these pros and cons can help individuals in Milwaukee make informed decisions about whether a no contest plea is appropriate given their specific legal situation.   

Should You Plead No Contest? Consult a Milwaukee Criminal Defense Attorney 

Are you involved in a case that may lead to a civil lawsuit? If so, our team of attorneys at Schiro Criminal Defense will devise the strongest possible defense for your case. It is imperative to choose a team that you can trust to handle your legal matter and who understands the situation at hand. Contact Schiro Criminal Defense at (414) 441-3132 to discuss your case today.  

In your time of need, count on us for legal guidance. Call (414) 277-9696 today, and let’s discuss the right way forward together.

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Share This Story

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