In all criminal proceedings in Florida, the defendant is given a chance to enter a plea. The person has the option to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. It is imperative that the defendant understands the effects of their plea to the future of the case at hand.
You may have watched on television someone saying “no contest” in a court hearing shown on the television. The phrase also means “I do not wish to contend.” If it is your first time to encounter this phrase, then this article will help enlighten you.
Guilty Versus No Contest In Florida
One of the most asked questions about the plea of no contest is its difference from the plea of guilty.
First, it is critical to know that the sentencing consequence of a plea of guilty and a plea of no contest is usually the same. These two concepts, however, have different elements that make them considerably different.
When a person pleads guilty, he is admitting the facts about the commission of the crime. In effect, the person is also accepting the legal consequences that come with the stated facts. A plea of guilty can be used against the defendant in future court cases.
On the other hand, a no contest plea is a bit more complicated. The person who enters this plea is not admitting that they are guilty. However, the defendant is telling the court that they are admitting that there are facts that can be proven by the prosecution which could lead to conviction. In simpler terms, when the person under trial enters a plea of no contest, it means that he is neither admitting nor denying his guilt.
The Effect of a No Contest Plea
When a defendant enters a no contest plea, it will not be automatically accepted by the judge. The judge will be asking the defendant if they understand the consequences of a no contest plea. In addition, the judge will also try to determine if the defendant understands his or her rights and if he is voluntarily entering the plea. The defendant is given a chance to explain why he has chosen a plea of no contest over other options.
One of the benefits of a no contest plea is that it cannot be used as a basis for admission of the commission of the crime. But just like entering a plea of guilt, a no contest plea also relinquishes some important rights of an accused person. Note, however, that the judge may not always accept a plea of no contest. Check the Florida 2018 Statutes for more details on this.
Know Your Rights by Seeking the Best Criminal Defense Counsel in Florida
You have the right to be represented by a legal counsel of your choice. If you find yourself in a situation where you need to defend yourself, seek legal advice and let an expert criminal defense lawyer in Florida defend you. Invoke your right to be silent and let Piotrowski Law provide the legal representation you need. Give us a call today at (305) 204-5000 for a free, no-obligation consultation.