Pleading no contest, also known as nolo contendere, can be a good option for some people facing criminal charges in Virginia. However, many people choose to plead no contest without understanding what it actually means or what the repercussions are. If you’re in a tough legal position and are considering your options, keep reading to learn more about nolo contendere pleas, and how a lawyer can help you decide if it’s a good option for you.
What it Means to Plead Nolo Contendere or No Contest
Nolo contendere translates to “I do not wish to contend.” A no contest plea is an alternative to pleading not guilty or guilty in a criminal case in Virginia. When you plead no contest, you are not confessing guilt, but you are not denying the charges against you either.
However, a no contest plea can still involve serious, life-changing consequences, including a criminal record, fines, penalties, and possible jail time. Importantly, a no contest plea may result in a conviction.
3 Situations When Pleading No Contest May Work to Your Advantage
There can be several advantages to pleading no contest, especially if you’re faced with multiple trials and complicated sentencing. While it’s important to learn about your options, it’s always best to consult with a criminal defense lawyer if you think pleading no contest is a good option for you in your case.
1. When You Want to Avoid a Criminal Trial
A criminal trial can involve intense questioning and scrutiny in a public forum. Sometimes, people facing criminal charges choose to plead no contest, rather than deal with the difficult and expensive process of defending themselves at trial. A no contest plea will allow you to avoid a trial without admitting guilt.
2. When You’re Negotiating a Plea Deal
Prosecutors and judges may accept a no contest plea as part of a plea bargain. If you’d prefer a nolo contendere plea as part of a negotiated deal, discuss this option with your criminal defense attorney.
3. If You’re Facing a Civil Lawsuit
If you’re also facing a civil suit, pleading no contest may be a good idea. When you make a guilty plea, you’d essentially be admitting fault. If your actions triggered a personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff’s attorney may present your guilty plea as evidence of your negligence and responsibility for their client’s damages. On the other hand, a nolo contendere plea may not be used as an admission in a subsequent case.
However, pleading no contest won’t fully protect you from civil liability, especially when there’s other evidence that you’re responsible for the incident.
What Happens After You Plead No Contest?
Many people facing criminal charges don’t understand what happens after pleading no contest. Pleading no contest does not protect you from sentencing or having a criminal record.
Once you make your no contest plea, the judge will issue a sentence. Depending on your circumstances and plea bargain, this may involve jail time, probation, restitution, fines, substance abuse counseling, and community service.
Just as importantly, a no contest plea typically results in a criminal conviction. When employers, landlords, and other parties search your criminal record, they will see this conviction—unless you can expunge it later on.
If you’re facing criminal charges, you need a lawyer on your side who can help you understand your options and make the best decisions for your future. Choosing to plead no contest is a decision that should not be taken lightly. If you think it could be advantageous to your case, contact a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
Fishwick & Associates: Guiding Our Clients Through Their Criminal Plea Options
When you’re facing criminal charges, it’s never a good idea to go it alone. At Fishwick & Associates, we’re proud to represent those facing prosecution in Virginia. We treat clients with dignity and respect, and we guide them through difficult, life-changing decisions. We always fight for the best outcome possible, helping our clients get their lives back on track.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.