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Easley Law Firm

What is the difference between pleading guilty and pleading no contest?

 If you are facing criminal charges, you have various options with regard to how you plea. For example, you can plead “guilty,” “no contest,” or “not guilty.” Unless you have been through the criminal process in the past, you may not understand the differences between “no contest” and “guilty” pleas. It is important that you understand these differences, however, before making a decision for your own case.

Important Facts About No Contest and Guilty Pleas

One major difference between a “no contest” and a “guilty” plea is that generally, those pleading “no contest” cannot later be sued in a civil suit. When pleading “no contest,” the following is true:

  1. You are conceding to the charge against you without admitting guilt.
  2. You are not presenting a defense.
  3. In general, you cannot use a no contest plea in a death penalty case.
  4. In some cases, a judge may have discretion as to whether to accept a plea of no contest.

Before accepting a no contest plea, the judge will typically have a conversation with the defendant in order to be sure that he or she understands the plea and the possible punishment they face.

When pleading “guilty,” the following is true:

  1. You are admitting to the charges against you.
  2. You are stating that you have no defense to the charges.
  3. You are allowing the court to go ahead and levy a punishment against you.

Before accepting a guilty plea, the court first ensures that the guilty plea is entered into voluntarily and that there is reason to believe that the defendant is telling the truth.

Regardless of which plea you ultimately choose, it is important to seek legal representation rather than trying to make these important decisions on your own.  We encourage you to contact us today for help at 888-386-3898.

Darwyn L. Easley
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Attorney and Counsellor at Law

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Easley Law Firm

  • 10521 Judicial Drive
    Suite 205

    Fairfax, VA 22030
  • Phone: 703-865-6610
  • Fax: 703-842-6101
  • Toll Free: 888-386-3898
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