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Criminal Law Blog

Understanding Different Pleas in Court

August 10, 2018

If you are charged with a crime, you will need to enter a plea in court as part of your case. You should never make a plea without consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you decide the best strategy for facing your charges. There are multiple pleas you can make in court. Here are some of the options that your lawyer will review with you.


Guilty pleas are an admission to the court that you did the crime with which you are charged and that you waive your rights to fight the case. In many cases, when people plead guilty in court, they do so after reaching a plea bargaining agreement with the help of their criminal defense attorney. A plea bargain often involves a defendant agreeing to plead guilty to a crime that is less serious than the one that with which he or she was initially charged. The prosecutor avoids the time and expense of going to trial, while the defendant usually faces a lighter penalty.

Not Guilty

Pleading not guilty means denying that the charges are correct in any way. When a not-guilty plea is entered, the case is referred for trial, which gives the defendant and the criminal defense attorney time to prepare for court. In some cases, after a not-guilty plea, a defendant will return to court and plead guilty as part of a plea bargaining agreement.

No Contest

No contest, or nolo contendere, pleas are used when the defendant wants to avoid confirming or denying the charges. If you enter a no contest plea, the court may sentence you as they would for a guilty plea, however, because you did not admit guilt, your words can’t be used against you in a civil case. You should never plead no contest without an attorney’s advice. Like guilt pleas, no contest pleas are often entered as the result of a plea bargaining agreement.


Before you enter a plea, call Janet Altschuler. This experienced Tucson criminal defense attorney will fight for your rights and help you get the best possible outcome for your case. When you need a defense lawyer, call (520) 247-1789.

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