If you have been arrested for any crime—including driving under the influence—you will be asked to enter a plea. Defendants can choose to plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest. If you choose to plead no contest, you are basically admitting that the prosecution has enough evidence to convict you, however you can still maintain that you are innocent. But, would a criminal defense lawyer in Denver ever recommend that you plead no contest to DUI? Here’s what you need to know:
The History of the No Contest Plea
The no contest plea is also referred to as “nolo contendere,” and is based on English common law. One of the most famous no contest pleas occurred when then-Vice President Spiro Agnew pleaded no contest to falsifying tax returns in order to avoid a trial that would attract media attention. The no contest plea is very similar to the Alford plea, which is the legal term used to describe a situation in which the defendant pleads guilty to committing a crime, but still maintains that he is innocent. Learn more about the history of nolo contendere
The Consequences of Pleading No Contest
Although you are not technically admitting guilt for the crime, a no contest plea will lead to the same consequences as a guilty plea. If you choose to enter a no contest plea, you will not have to go to trial to determine your fate. The next step in the process would be sentencing, where a judge will tell you what the penalties are for the crime that you have committed.
Defendants who plead no contest will have a criminal conviction on their record just as they would if they had pled guilty. If you are ever charged with DUI again in the future, the no contest plea on your record will be considered a prior offense. This means the next time you are convicted, you could face more severe penalties because it is not your first conviction.
However, in most cases, a no contest plea cannot be used against you in a civil lawsuit. For example, if you injure someone while allegedly driving under the influence, the victim could file a personal injury lawsuit against you. However, he cannot use the fact that you pleaded no contest in criminal court to establish that you were driving under the influence at the time of the accident. Victims can use a guilty plea to establish that the defendant was intoxicated, so this is one way that a guilty plea and no contest plea are different.
It’s important to remember that you should never enter a plea without consulting with an attorney. An attorney can help you understand the benefits and consequences of every available option. If you have been arrested for driving under the influence, contact the Law Office of John Buckley. We work tirelessly to defend your rights and ensure you receive the best legal representation possible. Contact John L. Buckley
as soon as possible to schedule a legal consultation.