What does it mean to plead no contest?
Too many people make the mistake of looking at criminal charges in strictly a black-or-white perspective. They think a person is guilty or innocent and that guilty people are sentenced and innocent people are absolved of any allegations of wrongdoing.
In reality, however, criminal charges are far more complex than this. And it can quickly become clear that there are not just two ways to plead to a criminal charge. For instance, if you are charged with a DUI in Florida, you may consider pleading no contest, or nolo contendere.
As noted in this FindLaw article, pleading no contest to a criminal charge means that a person is accepting the charge without challenging it and without pleading guilty.
There are a few reasons why a person might plead no contest. If there is some evidence that supports the allegations but you maintain your innocence, for example, you might plead no contest. If you want to avoid trial or keep certain facts about the case private, you might choose to plead no contest.
However, pleading no contest doesn't mean you are innocent. You will still face sentencing for the offense, though there may be room for negotiation. For example, a person might see other charges dropped in exchange for pleading no contest.
You should also know that a no contest plea can impact your criminal record and future in much the same ways that a guilty plea can. Further, a judge doesn't have to accept a no contest plea.
It is critical is note here that every case is different and must be handled as such. There are legal advantages and drawbacks associated with no contest pleas, as well as any other plea, that must be considered and weighed in the context of a specific case. Before making any decisions on your own regarding a DUI or other criminal charge, you would be wise to discuss legal options and strategies with an experienced criminal defense attorney.