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What Does "No Contest" Mean?


When it comes to facing criminal charges in court, people often either plead “guilty” if they believe they committed a crime or “not guilty” if they feel they are innocent. In some cases, however, a person will plead “no contest”.

Essentially, a no contest plea is similar to pleading guilty. The main difference is that the defendant says they are not going to contend the charges against them, while not admitting guilt at the same time. Since the defendant wishes not go to trial for the charge, the court is given the complete ability to determine the punishment for the conviction at a sentencing hearing. The judge will still find the defendant guilty when a no contest plea is entered.

Although it may seem like there is no point to a no contest plea, the biggest advantage is that the plea cannot be used against the defendant if there are any civil lawsuits arising out of the alleged crimes. For example, if the defendant and the plaintiff were involved in a heated debate which evolved into a fight. The defendant is not only charged with assault, but also sued by a plaintiff in civil court.

A guilty verdict can be used in civil court to prove the defendant was liable for the injuries suffered by the plaintiff. But if the defendant enters a no contest plea, certain pieces of evidence or information from the criminal case cannot be used in a civil case, thus potentially avoiding liability and the financial loss brought on by such lawsuits.

Whether you plead guilty or no contest is a decision that requires legal advice from a skilled attorney. A criminal defense lawyer can assess your case, advise you of all the available legal options, and help you come to a decision that is in your best interests.

For more information about pleading no contest, contact our Milwaukee criminal defense attorney at the Law Offices of Christopher J. Cherella today.

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