Types of Pleas
In criminal law, the vast majority of cases end in a plea bargain of one type or another. Very few cases end up going to trial, so at some point a plea offer will likely be offered. What are the types of pleas available and what is the difference?
Not guilty and guilty pleas are relatively clear. A person is either admitting or denying that they committed the crime that they have been charged with when they plea guilty or not guilty. Usually people enter a plea of not guilty at the initial court appearance as this plea can usually be withdrawn and changed to either a guilty or no contest plea later in the case. A guilty plea can be used against a person if a civil suit arises out the same action that the criminal charge is based upon. For example, if person A punches person B in the face, an assault would likely be charged. In addition to a criminal charge, person B may also sue person A for any damages or medical bills caused by the punch. A plea of guilty to the assault is able to be used against person A in the civil suit.
A plea of no contest, on the other hand, cannot be used against a person in a civil suit. A plea of no contest simply means that the Defendant is not contesting the facts alleged. Instead, they allow the judge to accept the facts alleged as true and sentence based upon those facts. While the person is not entering a plea of guilty, they are almost always found guilty by a judge as long as the facts describe the elements of the crime.
Another type of plea is an Alford plea. It is called Alford because it is based upon the United States Supreme Court case of North Carolina v. Alford. An Alford plea is a plea of guilty, but the plea of guilty is only because the Defendant does not wish to face the uncertainties and unpredictability of a trial. So while a person may be pleading guilty, they are only pleading guilty because they would rather plea to a lesser charge in order to avoid a jury trial where there is a possibility that they could be found guilty of more charges.
This is legal information, not legal advice. Every case is different, and the decision to plea or not to plea is specific to every case. If you are in need of an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Toledo or the surrounding areas, call Brian C. Morrissey at 419-830-7441 for a free consultation.