A “no contest” plea is a plea commonly used in criminal proceedings as an alternative to a guilty or not guilty, by which the defendant neither admits nor disputes to committing the crime in question. It is derivative of the Latin phrase “nolo contendere,” which means “I do not wish to contend.”
It is important to understand that a no contest plea has the same legal effect as a guilty plea. So, if you plead no contest to a criminal charge, the crime and penalties will show up in the defendant’s criminal record as a conviction.
The Advantage of a No Contest Plea
However, a no contest plea has only one tangible benefit, relating to civil court. This type of plea often appeals to defendants looking to avoid admission of fault in a related civil case.
For example, your alleged DUI offense also resulted in damage to a storefront. The store’s owner might file a civil complaint against you in order to recover compensation for the damage you caused to the building. If you plead guilty in a criminal case, the owner can offer that plea into evidence in the civil case to prove you are liable for the damage. But if you plead no contest, however, the owner cannot offer that plea into evidence in the civil case.
If you want to know whether pleading no contest is possible – and what the plea would mean – in your case, contact our Memphis criminal defense attorney at the Law Offices of Stephen R. Leffler, P.C. and schedule a free consultation today.