Know These Five Things Before Making A Nolo Contendere Plea

A "nolo contendere" plea, Latin for "I will not contest it", is a clever way of avoiding a guilty or not guilty plea when charged with a crime. However, just like any other plea, you should know what you are "getting yourself into" before opening your mouth. Here are a few fundamental truths about a no contest plea:

It's Not Available In All States

State laws determine whether or not criminal courts can allow "nolo contendere" pleas. Some states have enacted laws that bar judges from allowing such pleas in their courtrooms. States with such laws rationalize that a suspect is either guilty or not guilty, and has to take an applicable stand.

It's Not a Given

Even in states that allow no contest pleas, don't expect their automatic acceptance; you need the court's consent first. The judge will only consent to your no contest plea after considering the views of the different parties concerned with the case as well as the public interest. Therefore, the judge may decline your plea if it believes that it is not in the best interest of the public.

You Still Get Convicted and Punished

A "nolo contendere" isn't a magical plea that somehow helps you to avoid conviction or lessen your charges. As far as the criminal sentencing is concerned, it is comparable to a guilty plea. This means you still get convicted and sentenced just as you would if you entered a guilty plea. The only exception is that you escape the guilty tag, which means the conviction and sentencing cannot be used against you in a personal injury case related to the criminal one.

Almost Always Result In Guilty Verdicts

Making a "nolo contendere" plea may seem like a clever way of avoiding the guilty tag, but it does have its drawbacks. For example, defendants who enter the plea are often found guilty of their charges. After all, by making a no contest plea, you are saying that you are neither guilty nor innocent, and leave it up to the court to determine whether you are guilty.

You Will Have No Right Of Appeal

Lastly, you should know that just like is the case with a not guilty plea; you don't have the right of appeal after making a no contest plea. If you aren't satisfied with your sentence, then you must withdraw your no contest plea first before you can enter a different one and face trial.

As you can see, a "nolo contendere" is a pretty complicated form of a criminal court plea. You should only consider it if you understand what it means for your case. Only make it if a criminal lawyer has evaluated your case and advised you accordingly. To learn more, visit a website like