Dallas Criminal Defense Attorney Discusses Differences Between Pleading Guilty and No Contest

Most people in Texas are aware of the legal differences between pleading guilty and not guilty.  But what about no contest, or “nolo contendere”?  We hear this from watching television shows, going to the movies, listening to the radio, and simply talking among friends, family members and co-workers.  While the term may seem self-explanatory, it is nonetheless important to understand the difference between these two plea decisions, especially if you have been charged with a crime in Texas.

Many people decide to represent themselves, and this often leads to conviction that may have been lessened or avoided altogether if a Dallas criminal defense attorney had been involved.  By representing yourself, you are at a disadvantage if you do not fully understand the distinction between a plea of guilty and a plea of no contest, and the ramifications for each plea.

By pleading guilty, you are essentially admitting guilt, and accepting punishment.  By pleading no contest, you are not admitting guilt, but you are accepting punishment as if you had pleaded guilty.  A plea of no contest cannot be used against you in a civil lawsuit as an admission of guilt.

It may seem strange to plead no contest if you are innocent, so, why plead no contest if you didn’t commit the crime you are charged with?  Pleading no contest is a decision that is sometimes the best option for your particular situation.  The decision to plead no contest should be discussed with an experience Dallas criminal defense attorney.  A common reason why many individuals charged with a crime plead no contest is because they do not believe they will have a good chance of proving their innocence at trial.  In such cases, by accepting punishment, charged individuals may be able to avoid potentially long jail terms.

For example, if you are charged with possession of cocaine, and someone else had put the cocaine in your bag or pocket, you may have a very difficult time proving that the cocaine is not yours.  It is definitely unfair that you, as an innocent person, may have to accept a form of punishment simply to avoid potentially harsher punishment if found guilty at trial.  Therefore, pleading no contest can help you avoid serious punishment and you do not have to admit guilt.

How Do I Know If I Should Plead No Contest?

Before making such an important decision as pleading guilty or no contest to a criminal charge, it is essential that you consult with a Dallas County criminal defense attorney.  Your attorney can evaluate the facts of your case to give you an opinion of what is likely to happen at trial.  If it is more likely that you will be found guilty, your attorney may suggest that you plead no contest to avoid the potential for serious jail time.

However, it is always up to you as the charged individual whether or not you want to plead not guilty, guilty, or no contest.  Whatever decision you make, you need a Dallas criminal defense attorney by your side to ensure you are reaching the best resolution possible to your criminal charge.

Contact Dallas Criminal Defense Attorney Jack Pettit Today

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, whether it be drug possession, driving while intoxicated (DWI), assault, battery, or receiving a traffic ticket, you need the help of a Dallas County Criminal Defense Lawyer who will fight to achieve the best outcome possible for your particular situation.  Dallas Criminal Defense Attorney Jack Pettit has over thirty years of experience, both as a prosecutor and as a criminal defense attorney.  Mr. Pettit has the skill and dedication necessary to advocate for you and avoid the detrimental consequences of a criminal conviction.  To schedule an appointment with Mr. Pettit, please call our office today at (214) 521-4567.  We offer bilingual services in English and Spanish and also accept major credit cards.


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