When you have been arrested and charged with a crime, in nearly all cases, the first thing on your mind is getting the entire situation to go away. This approach often results in someone who has been charged with an offense pleading no contest without first consulting with a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney. There are some things you should know about pleading no contest to any criminal charges including:
- Does not mean not guilty – when you enter a plea of no contest, it does not mean you are exonerated for any crimes you are charged with. In these cases, the judge will allow you to plead no contest and the prosecutor will then have an opportunity to present their case to the judge who will then determine your punishment.
- Does not mean no jail time – while your Jacksonville criminal defense attorney may be able to help you mount a solid defense that can result in no jail time, pleading no contest does not offer that option. In many cases, the judge will determine whether they feel the facts support a guilty finding and sentence you accordingly.
- Admission of facts – it is important to understand that if you plead no contest you are stating, in essence, that the facts that the prosecutor presents are true. In some cases, a judge may ask you questions regarding the charges but in other cases they may not.
However, there are some advantages to a no contest plea that you should also be aware of including:
- Can be used on appeal – in some cases, a no contest plea can be used in an appeal. In effect, you will be appealing whether or not the government can use certain facts against you since you are not admitting guilt, instead you are admitting to the facts as presented.
- Civil case advantages – if criminal charges are the result of a non-fatal car accident, or other case that could result in a civil suit, a guilty plea means the finding can be used against you in a civil case. However, when you offer a no contest plea, it cannot be used against you in subsequent civil cases.
- No court trial – another advantage to a no contest plea is the lack of a trial, which could be beneficial depending on the circumstances of your arrest, and the charges filed against you.
Before you consider entering a plea to any criminal charges, it is always a good idea to talk to a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney. Keep in mind that no contest is an admission that the prosecutor’s facts are valid and you may not have an opportunity to offer a defense. Any time you are arrested and charged with any crime, a criminal defense attorney should be contacted immediately. For most defendants, it is never a good idea to plead no contest without consulting with an attorney first.