Although pleading guilty and pleading no contest might appear to be the same to a nonprofessional, there are some subtle differences between these two pleas, when some finer points of the laws existing in our state are considered. A different kind of plea exists too, called as the Alford plea, which can be used by a defendant to plead guilty of a crime, not by of admission of the guilt itself, but because sufficient evidence exists to prove that he or she is guilty.
Alford plea vs no contest
The basic definitions of these two pleas have already been mentioned above. A person can plead guilty of a crime in a court of law, and can wait for the judgment on his or her case to be given out by the jury and the judge. This usually happens in cases where the defendant is convinced that the evidence against him or her is undisputable, or if they have committed the crime themselves. In such cases, the person does not have any defense of their own, and the court can proceed with levying punishment against the person.
A defendant can enter a no contest plea in a court of law if the evidence against him or her is overwhelming, but the defendant wants to state that he or she is not guilty of the crime. Pleading no contest or nolo contendere means that, the court can proceed with punishing the defendant for the crime, but will have to bear in mind that a plea of no contest has been entered. This is often done in cases to avoid a civil action against the defendant.
Alford plea is a very different type of plea, and it deals with the situations where the defendant does not admit guilt in a court of law, but admits that the prosecution has sufficient evidence that can incriminate him.
If you are trying to differentiate between Alford plea vs no contest plea, then this brief description of both pleas would have helped you. Pleading guilty in a court of law is not as easy as it seems. The court will not accept the admission of crime at face value, and will require some details in order to accept the plea for the guilty.
These are some details regarding some of the pleas, which are used in a court of law. These pleas help in the smooth running of the judicial machinery.
A docket sheet is one that records all the events related to a particular order, usually in the chronological order. Docket sheets in a criminal case will document the plea that the defendant entered and how he responded to the charges against him. In the case of criminals, there are a few different pleas that an accused may choose to enter, as given below.
By making a ‘not guilty,’ the defendant out rightly denies all the charges made against him and the evidences constituting the case. In such a case, the prosecutor will have to prove the facts beyond a reasonable doubt. The defendant is entitled to fair jury trial if he enters a ‘not guilty’ plea, but does not have to be necessarily present any evidence. If the defendant does not enter into any plea by himself, then the court will enter a ‘not guilty’ plea on his behalf.
In a guilty plea, the defendant admits to having committed the crime that he has been charged with. By entering such a plea, he gives up his right to a fair trial. The court may not acknowledge the guilty plea unless there are facts to show that the defendant entered such a plea knowingly and willingly. While making such a plea, the defendant should understand what this charge involves, the punishments that can be awarded and the different consequences.
A defendant who pleads to no contest does not admit to having committed the crime, but admits that there is enough evidence to get him convicted. The court does not hold a trial in case of a ‘no contest’ plea. For all practical purposes, the defendant is considered as guilty and the court may sentence him unless there is no crime at all. Otherwise, the prosecution does not necessarily have to prove the crime beyond doubt and the defendant does not necessarily have to prove his innocence either.
While comparing the Alford plea vs no contest, there is very little, that differentiates the two. By entering an Alford plea, the defendant pleads guilty while refusing his involvement in a crime, i.e., he pleads guilty, yet at the same time maintains his innocence as well.
That was some information about the various pleas that a defendant may choose to enter when faced with criminal charges. Before entering a plea, it important that the defendant understand various pleas, the difference between the Alford plea vs no contest plea, the consequence of each plea, the punishments that may be awarded and various aspects like that.
In the Maryland legal system, a defendant is required to enter into a plea before the commencement of the trial in response to the charges leveled against him. Here are some of the different pleas that a defendant may enter in the state’s courts-
Guilty and Not guilty pleas:
The guilty and the not guilty pleas are the two basic types of pleas that can be claimed in Maryland. By entering a not guilty plea, the most the defendant is denying is having committed the crime that he is charged with. This plea also requires the State of Maryland to produce sufficient proof to prove his guilt. Even if the defendant did commit the crime, he can go for this plea if he believes that there is not enough evidence to convict him. By entering a guilty plea, a defendant admits to the crime. When entering this plea, the accused give ups his right to a fair trial and is willing to accept any punishment that the court decides.
Alford plea vs no contest:
In addition to the above mentioned pleas, the Alford and the no contest are other two other pleas that the defendant may choose to enter in Maryland’s courts. By entering into a no contest plea, the defendant neither admits to the crime nor does he deny the charges against him. When comparing the Alford plea vs no contest, what makes the Alford plea different from the other pleas is that even though this plea also refuses to admit guilt, the defendant admits that the prosecution has sufficient evidence to get him convicted. This plea, in a way admits to the crime while at the same time maintains that he is innocent. A common example of the of the Alford plea is when the defendant was highly intoxicated at the time of the crime as a result of which he has no memory of the circumstances surrounding the crime.
Before entering a plea, it is always best that the defendant consult an experienced attorney. It is the responsibility of the lawyer to ensure, while discussing the plea that the defendant is competent, of sound mind, understands English and is not under the influence of any drugs. He should also make sure that the accused clearly understands the charges leveled against him and also that he fully understands the consequences of the plea he is making. The attorney should also ensure that the defendant is not pressurized into his plea.
The two most commonly used types of pleas are the guilty plea and the not guilty plea. By pleading guilty, you admit to having committed the crime and that you are willing to accept any punishment that the court rules. However, by entering a not guilty plea, you are saying that you did not commit the crime and thus are prepared to fight against the prosecution. Even if you did commit the crime that you are charged with, you can go for the not guilty plea if you think there is not enough evidence to prosecute you as a this kind of plea comes with the burden of proof.
Alford plea vs no contest plea:
The Alford plea and the no contest pleas are two other pleas that a defendant may resort to when charged with some crime. By entering into a no contest plea, the defendant neither admits to a crime nor does he deny the charges against him. The difference between the Alford plea vs no contest plea is that in the former, even though the defendant refuses to admit guilt, he admits that the prosecution has sufficient evidence to convict him. An instance where the defendant has no memory of the circumstances surrounding a crime is an example when the Alford plea can be used.
When a defendant is charged or arrested with criminal charges, he/she is required to enter a plea in answer to the charges against him/her. The defendant has to appear before the judge during the prosecution where the judge reads to him the charges as detailed in the charge sheet filed by the prosecution. Following this, the defendant has to enter into either the guilty or not guilty or the Alford or the no contest plea.
Before entering a plea the defendant should consult his lawyer. It is the responsibility of the lawyer to make sure that defendant, his client is competent, that he fully understands the charges against him and that he also understands the consequences of his plea. The lawyer should also ensure that he understands English, has a sound mind, that he is not under the influence of any drugs and that he is not under any pressure while making his plea. The defendant may also be offered a plea bargain. A plea bargain is an offer made by the prosecution to the defendant to accept a lesser penalty for giving up others or to plead guilty to lesser charges.
These are some aspects of the various pleading rules and its procedures in a court of law. There are a few landmark cases that involve each of these plea being used by defendants and students of law are encouraged to study such cases well.
When charged with a criminal case, there are various pleas that a defendant can enter into. A defendant may plead guilty, not guilty, the nolo contendere or even the Alford plea.
By pleading guilty, a defendant acknowledges that the charges made against him are true, that he cannot defend his actions and is willing to accept any punishments levied against him. If a defendant makes a guilty plea, the court first ensures that he/she voluntarily made such a plea and that there is sufficient reason to believe that it is an honest plea. Even in such a case, the prosecution is required to present before the court all the evidence that would have been introduced in the event of a not guilty plea. This is done to ensure that the defendant is telling the truth indeed as there are instances where parents plead guilty in order to protect their child from prosecution.
By pleading no contest or nolo contendere, a defendant does not actually admit guilt to the crime but the court can go ahead and determine the punishment. The judge will have a discussion with the defendant so as to make sure that he/she understands the various aspects of making such a plea and the likely punishment. Such a discussion gives the defendant an opportunity to state the reasons or circumstances due to which he is making a no contest plea instead of guilty or not guilty. This also enables the judge to get a better perspective of the state of affairs. By pleading nolo contendere, there is a slight possibility that the defendant might be awarded a lighter sentence than might be handed down after a jury trial.
The difference between the Alford plea vs no contest is that the court will most likely reject a nolo contendere plea if the defendant at the same time voices his innocence in front of the media. Such a situation would be known as an Alford plea. Alford plea vs no contest is similar in the sense as it both eliminates the entire criminal trial process as the defendant accepts all consequences of a guilty verdict without admitting to the crime initially. Neither the Alford plea nor the nolo contendere plea will be permitted to be used as evidence against the defendant in a civil action.
Any plea should be stated only after consulting with a lawyer. The implications of such pleas are many and may not even be predictable.
A plea is a term very often connected with legal procedures. Here, it is a statement made by a defendant in response to a complaint filed by the plaintiff. The defendant has the full right to make a plea statement in order to defend against the charges held against him/her. There are two main plea statements that we’ll discuss here: the Alford plea and the Nolo Contendere plea.
The Nolo Contendere plea is also known as the “No Contest” plea. This article compare the two, and find the differences while considering Alford plea vs No Contest plea. Most people go in for making one of these pleas when accused of a crime, and when the “no guilty” plea isn’t a viable option.
Alford plea vs No Contest plea
In an Alford plea the offender accepts only that the prosecution would be able to prove the charges, and not that he is guilty of them. For example, imagine a situation in which the defendant has gone through a physical or mental illness that resulted in temporary memory loss. In such a situation the defendant can come up with an Alford plea. The defendant can partially or fully attack charges made against him/her, on the grounds that the particular event did not take place, or that he/she cannot recollect the same. In most practical scenarios, Alford pleas are made to prove the “innocence” of the offender, so as to get him away with minimum punishment. If the evidences provided by the prosecution are not strong enough, this can favor the defendant. It is not necessary that the court should accept each and every Alford plea made by the defendant. The rejection or the approval of the same is left to the discretion of the court.
No Contest plea
The concept of “No contest” plea is quite plain, because the defendant may accept the punishment awarded to him/her without accepting the charges held. Here, the true scenario of the crime will not be evident, as the offender may not admit the charges, or admit to the crime. The defendant will go through all the normal legal formalities associated with a normal conviction. But the legal formalities connected with “No Contest” plea can become complicated.The “No contest” plea is not valid in certain states of America. A perfect example is the state of Minnesota.
These are the minor differences between the Alford and Nolo Contendere pleas. Hope you have benefited from the same.