In a criminal case, if all evidences and witnesses are against the defendant, he may plead guilty intentionally and voluntarily. This kind of situation may arise in cases where the defendant has no option but to accept guilt on the premise that the court will exempt him from grave charges if he accepts guilt. Courts are known to tone down the quantum of punishment if the guilty shows remorse. The plea is technically known as the Alford Plea.
In criminal cases, there are other pleas the defendant is entitled to such as ‘not guilty,’ ‘contest,’ or ‘no contest.’ If you have ever looked into a criminal case docket, you would probably come across such terms written on the face of the docket meant to assist the attorney or his paralegal to understand the stages of pleading.
Not Guilty Plea and Affirmative Defense
The defendant may deny the charges leveled against him in a criminal prosecution and it is for the prosecution to prove the guilt of the defendant beyond reasonable doubt. When the defendant pleads “not guilty,’ the court records the same and it is then that the prosecution should present evidence to the contrary.
There are not guilty pleas suggests that the defendant can be either excused or justified in committing the crime on the grounds of insanity, forced intoxication, self defense and so on. The onus on the part of the defendant herein is to not prove his innocence but to establish that he deserves to be excused or justified in the act.
As the name suggests, the defendant admits his guilt and it is for the court to admit the plea if facts of the case suggest that the defendant is guilty and such declaration did not arise out of intimidation of any sort.
No Contest Plea
In this type of plea, the defendant does not admit the guilt but facts. The trial and the defendant side evidence will be dispensed with in such cases. The defendant’s arguments strongly suggest the absence of facts constituting a crime in its strictest sense and he cannot be sentenced on such plea without court finding the guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
Legal scholars are of the view that the adaptation of the Alford guilty plea is a milestone in the law of criminal justice for the results of application of the plea are farfetched.