During your arraignment, the judge will ask you to enter a plea. You can either plead not guilty, guilty, or no contest. A not guilty plea means you are stating you did not commit the offense you were accused of. Guilty means you admit to the charges brought against you. No contest means you are not admitting guilt, but are also not contesting the facts of the case.
Advantage of a No Contest Plea
In a way, a no contest plea is similar to a guilty plea in that you will be convicted and sentenced for the offense. One of the advantages of entering no contest as opposed to guilty is that it generally may not be used as evidence against you in a civil case.
For example, if you were driving under the influence and caused an accident that resulted in injury, you could be arrested and charged with DUI; the other driver could also file a lawsuit against you for damages. If you plead guilty in the DUI case, it can be used as evidence during your civil trial to argue that you are liable for the accident. However, if you plead no contest in the DUI case, you are not admitting that you were intoxicated and caused the crash, which means the prosecution most likely won’t be able to offer your plea as evidence in the civil case.
Disadvantage of a No Contest Plea
Although in most instances a no contest plea can’t be used in civil cases, it will still show up on your criminal record as a conviction. If a potential employer, school, or lender runs a background check, they will see the conviction, which could affect their final decisions.
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