What's the difference between a "no contest" plea and a "guilty" plea in Florida traffic court?
Whether you have hired an attorney or you are fighting your ticket on your own, a "not guilty" plea must be entered in order for your case to be set for an evidentiary hearing (trial date). This plea may be entered in writing by your attorney or you may attend an arraignment hearing to verbally enter the plea. Once a "not guilty" plea is entered in your case, the Officer has the burden of proving that you committed the alleged offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Your case willl be set for a trial date, which is usually a month or two from the date that you entered the "not guilty" plea.
Whenever I take a case to court, I discuss your case with the officer that issued the citation and determine whether the case should proceed to trial. When there are weaknesses in the State's case, I will proceed to trial. However, many times the State's case is solid and it is best to enter a change of plea to "Guilty" or "No Contest". It is very important that you know the collateral consequences of entering a "Guilty" plea rather than a "No Contest" plea and vice versa. The Judge will not necessarily educate you on the consequences of entering your plea of choice and that's why it is very important that you consider hiring a traffic defense attorney. The legal fee is often nominal and the Attorney will likely save you time, money, and headaches.
GUILTY means that you are admitting that you have violated the law and that you accept responsibility for committing the offense.
NO CONTEST means that you are neither admitting nor denying that you committed the offense, but you are no longer contesting the charge.
Which plea should you enter? Before you make that decision, contact an attorney.