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What does pleading no contest mean?

Lachine, MI |

criminal charges

Attorney Answers 4


  1. There are three (3) legal pleas in criminal law:

    1) Guilty - an admission and acknowledgment of guilt.

    2) Not Guilty - a denial of guilt which as a plea, may be changed at a subsequent proceeding or factual determination.

    3) No Contest - a plea which does not admit or acknowledge guilt, but is treated as if the defendant entered a plea of guilty.

    One side note: Many jurisdictions do not allow a plea of No Contest, or, even where they do (such as in Florida's criminal law system), another jurisdiction may decide that the plea is a plea admitting or acknowledging guilt.


  2. There are three (3) legal pleas in criminal law:

    1) Guilty - an admission and acknowledgment of guilt.

    2) Not Guilty - a denial of guilt which as a plea, may be changed at a subsequent proceeding or factual determination.

    3) No Contest - a plea which does not admit or acknowledge guilt, but is treated as if the defendant entered a plea of guilty.

    One side note: Many jurisdictions do not allow a plea of No Contest, or, even where they do (such as in Florida's criminal law system), another jurisdiction may decide that the plea is a plea admitting or acknowledging guilt.


  3. In some situations a plea of no contest is beneficial, especially where a guilty plea might make you liable for civil damages. If you plead no contest your plea may not be used against you in civil proceedings which could be important where victim damages are far in excess of what is allowed under restitution theories.


  4. The legal impact of a no contest plea is essentially the same as a guilty plea, in that it is treated the same way for sentencing purposes. However, the advantage of a no contest plea is it allows the client to avoid having to specifically state what they did. This can be very important if the client fears a civil lawsuit or some other collateral consequence of a guilty plea which would require the client to specifically state in their own words what the client did. Such a resolution usually only results from a negotiated resolution between the client's lawyer and the prosecutor. Also, both the prosecutor and the judge must agree to the no contest plea. Otherwise, it is not a viable option.

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