A Nolo Contendere plea in Rhode Island Criminal Law is sometimes a conviction but is often not a conviction. Whether or not a plea of Nolo Contendere constitutes a conviction depends on the penalty/sentence imposed. Please read this article for an explanation. Nolo contendere means a person is not contesting the charges. When a defendant takes a nolo plea in Rhode island, the defendant is indicting that he does not want to contest the charges but is also essentially admitting to the charges.
What is the difference between a guilty plea and a nolo contendere plea in RI? There is a huge difference! A guilty plea is always a criminal conviction under RI law. A criminal conviction has major negative implications especially when a person applies for employment. A plea of nolo may not constitute a criminal conviction. It is only a conviction in RI if there is a sentence of confinement (such as the ACI or home confinement), a suspended sentence or a fine imposed.
For example, A plea of nolo contendere with a sentence of probation and a contribution to the violent crimes indemnity fund or court costs will not constitute a conviction under Rhode Island law! For example, A plea of nolo contendere with a sentence of a filing and a contribution to the violent crimes indemnity fund (vcif) will not constitute a conviction under Rhode Island law.
However, anything with a fine attached to it will be a conviction under Rhode Island law. Therefore, it is important that the defendant gets either no fine or a contribution to the victims fund or court costs rather then a fine.
All misdemeanor plea agreements in Rhode lsland should be nolo contendere with court costs or a contribution towards the victims indemnity fund rather then guilty pleas!