Guilty or No Contest?

By Schonauer Law on Feb 11, 2015 at 04:04 PM in What Does it Mean

A plea of guilty differs greatly from a plea of no contest, or nolo contendere.  When a defendant pleads guilty to a misdemeanor, he or she is admitting the facts and the charge.  When a person pleads no contest to a misdemeanor, he or she admits no guilt.  Rather, a plea of no contest to a misdemeanor states that you are not guilty, but you agree to be treated as if you are guilty, and have the court determine the proper punishment.

Guilty or No Contest?

Does it Really Matter?

Regarding the particular misdemeanor charge, a guilty plea does not differ from a no contest plea. Future liability is essentially the difference between a plea of guilty and no contest.  A plea of guilty to a misdemeanor admits the facts and legal finding supporting the conviction.  This admission may be used against the defendant in future civil trial.  An admission is not conclusive of liability, but can be powerful evidence.  A plea of no contest may not be admitted into evidence at future civil proceedings as an admission. 

What About Felonies?

A plea of no contest to a felony, or a wobbler, may be used against you as an admission in the future.  Admitting pleas of no contest to a wobbler of evidence of an admission has received criticism.  Opponents argue such a policy discourages pleas and forces a defendant to go to trial.  However, this argument rings hollow.  If a defendant is found guilty following a trial, a guilty verdict becomes much more than an admission.

I am licensed in California only. The above information is based upon California Law. The above information is not based upon your particular facts, and as such is not legal advice. For a more complete information, based upon your particular situation, I advise that you consult with an attorney.