Pleading in a Criminal Case in the State of Florida
When it comes time for a defendant to pledge their guilt or innocence to the court their options are either not guilty, guilty or no contest. While the options may seem obvious, the choices actually come with certain consequences. It is important that the accused understand what their pleading means so that they are not surprised by any unexpected outcomes that could be avoided. It is critical that the accused seeks adequate legal defense in order to help them better understand the consequences of their pleading. Here, we will examine what each choice really means.
If a defendant pleads guilty this means that they are accepting their charge and admit to committing the crime. The consequences of admitting guilt mean that the following rights are negated:
- Further investigation of the case;
- Trial by jury;
- An attorney present during trial; and
- Ability to testify during trial.
Additionally, if you are convicted of a felony then you lose additional rights such as the ability to hold certain positions, vote in elections, or serve on a jury. Such implications can last a lifetime unless the convictions are expunged from your record. It is important that a defendant understands the lasting effects of pleading guilty to a crime.
No contest is similar to pleading guilty, but is somewhat different. When a person pleads no contest to a crime they are not admitting guilt of the crime. Instead, they are allowing the court to proceed how they wish. This choice leads to many rights being taken away as similar in the case of pleading not guilty. However, some people assume that this plea allows them to “save face” while still proceeding with the natural process of court. Sometimes, people are confused about what pleading no contest means. This plea has serious implications and should be understood fully before being pursued. Once this plea is made then the case essentially is left up to the court to decide the outcome. There is essentially no additional defense available with this option. While a person may be ready to just stop the process quickly, this option has lasting impacts that should be heavily considered.
The not guilty plea is the most common plea in the courtroom. This means a person is stating that they did not commit the crime that they are accused of. This plea allows the person the opportunity to be defended by an attorney and potentially lead to a finding of not guilty by the court or a reduction in sentencing. Essentially, this option allows a person to receive a defense in their case.
Your plea is a critical part of your court case. Allow Scott Skier’s years of experience work for you. He is a defense attorney located in West Palm Beach Florida. His service to the area has assisted a number of defendants who are facing criminal charges. Reach out to him for a free consultation. He is ready to help you through your court case today.