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What Are Your Plea Options In a Criminal Court Case?

Even if you've never been in a courtroom before, chances are you've seen a movie or television show where the judge asks the defendant how they plea to the crime they are being charged for. A plea is essentially your response to the charges being brought against you. There are three ways a defendant can plea during a court case: guilty, not guilty, and nolo contendere (also known as no contest). The way you plea to charges against you determines the next steps in your case. Once you've put in your plea, it's very difficult to withdraw or change it, so be sure you're comfortable with whatever route you decide to go.

A Guilty Plea

Pleading guilty means that you are taking responsibility for the crime that was committed and are waiving your rights to be proven otherwise. This plea is very rarely recommended, unless it involves some kind of deal that could come with a shorter sentence or the dropping of other charges. By submitting this plea the defendant is willing to take the punishment associated with all charges involved. The court must accept the plea before it is filed. The judge will go through a series of questions about the crime and its charges to make sure that the defendant completely understands everything they are being charged to. This process is called "colloquy," as it's a one on one conversation.

A Not Guilty Plea

A not guilty plea is the route most defendants choose to go. Pleading this way is a full denial of guilt. This plea allows for a case to to built and a trial to occur. By pleading not guilty, it becomes the prosecutor and the court's job to prove otherwise.

A Nolo Contendere Plea

This plea means that the defendant doesn't agree or disagree with the charges they are being brought up on. This plea, like a guilty plea, must also be accepted by the court as completely voluntary. The judge will ask a the defendant questions about the case to make sure they understands the possible consequences of the charges they are being brought up on.

Having experienced legal counsel to help navigate which plea is right for you can make a huge difference in the way your case proceeds. Russell Spatz has decades of experience and always has his clients best interest in mind. Call (305) 442-0200 to make an appointment with him to discuss your case today.


3.170. Pleas. (2018, May 20). Retrieved from

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