Posted By Law Office of Melvin L. Vatz || 3-May-2017
When you enter your initial plea in the court, most people think you can choose to declare yourself either “guilty” or “not guilty.” However, there are other options as well. You could choose to declare “no contest” to your charges, which has a slightly different effect from these two. Let’s look at this plea further on this blog.
What “No Contest” Means
A “no contest” plea can essentially be thought of as a secondary way of declaring guilty, but with an added advantage. By declaring no contest, you are admitting to the court that you are not contesting the charges against you, and that the court is free to convict you of the act.
If you plead no contest, a number of consequences will occur. First off, you will be subject to the penalties you are facing as a result of your charges. If your crime is a misdemeanor or felony, it will be entered into your criminal record, and you will be subject to the consequences of that (including reduce employment opportunities, loss of employment, and more).
Why Choose a “No Contest” Plea
In many cases, a “no contest” plea is entered when the defense expects to receive something in exchange from the prosecution. For example, a defendant may choose to plead “no contest” to their charges if the defense and the prosecution have struck a plea deal which gives the defendant a lighter sentence in lieu of undergoing a full trial. In many cases, this works well for both parties as justice is served on the perpetrator of a crime, and the justice department is able to save its precious resources by avoiding a full trial.
However, the most common use of a “no contest” plea is to avoid liability in a related civil case. For example, say a drunk driver crashed into a storefront, damaging the business and lots of its merchandise. Upon criminal arraignment for the DUI charge, the defendant may wish to plead “no contest” to this case in order to avoid having the “guilty” plea on record.
This is because the shop owner’s insurance company will likely attempt to sue the driver and their insurance company for the damages to the storefront in a civil suit. In this case, the store and their insurance could use the “guilty” plea as evidence to support the drunk driver for being the at-fault party. However, a “no contest” plea most often cannot be entered as evidence to support the case, instead meaning the civil suit may be contested at which point the driver may be able to absolve themselves of liability (such as if the accident was actually caused by a defective tire blowing out which forced the driver to lose control).
If you are facing criminal charges of any kind, you should consult with an experienced Pittsburgh criminal defense lawyer before going to trial and entering a plea of any kind. Attorney Melvin L. Vatz has more than 38 years of experience standing up for those who are facing criminal charges. Since 1976, Attorney Vatz has focused on practicing criminal and civil law with the belief that everybody facing criminal charges deserves a skilled and dedicated ally on their side. He has successfully helped clients face both misdemeanor and felony charges on both a state and federal level.
Call the Law Office of Melvin L. Vatz today at 412-391-3030 to request a free case evaluation and get help with your criminal charges!
Categories: Criminal Defense