Nolo Contendere: A Good Explanation of the ‘No Contest’ Plea…Finally

Defendants who are facing criminal charges have one method of recourse that they may not even know is available. This is called a “no contest” plea, and it has a distinct set of advantages that other pleas do not offer. There are still restrictions regarding this type of plea, and it is not readily available to all defendants who request it.


How ‘No Contest’ is Different

In the state of Texas, a “no contest” plea is vastly different from a guilty or not guilty plea because it does not require the defendant to admit any guilt. When a no contest plea is requested the defendant agrees to let the court sentence them for the crime, but at the same time there is no admission of guilt. A no contest plea is beneficial if the defendant wants to be saved from possible civil action later. A person who enters a guilty plea and is sued in civil court may be forced to pay substantial sums of money in damages to a plaintiff.


The Process of Requesting a No Contest Plea

Requesting this type of plea never promises a guaranteed result. There are instances where a no contest plea is rejected by a judge and the defendant must choose to plead guilty or not guilty. This type of plea is most commonly accepted if the prosecution has no issue with it.

While federal courts do allow defendants to plead no contest, there are some states where this is not even an option. Many other states have other requirements, such as the crime can’t be of a violent nature. If a crime is minor, most states will allow a person to plead no contest.

Before a judge considers this type of plea they look at factors such as extenuating circumstances that may have made the person less likely to know they were committing a crime. The defendant’s involvement in the crime may also be considered. A case with multiple defendants may look more favorable upon a person who had only slight involvement.


Future Issues

Pleading no contest does not mean that it may not be a hindrance to the defendant in the future. This type of plea can still be considered involving future criminal cases. A judge may take this into consideration if sentencing is given for another crime at a later date. It can also cause issues when the defendant tries to apply for future jobs, as it will still be visible on their criminal record.

For more information regarding no contest pleas, talk to Rand Mintzer at 713-862-8880 for a free legal consultation.