Criminal Defense

What is the difference between a No Contest Plea and a Guilty Plea?

Chandler | Conway

Chandler | Conway

Wednesday January 26, 2011

Most people truly do not understand the difference between a guilty plea and a no contest plea.  The biggest difference has to do with civil liability.  A Guilty Plea to a criminal charge can be used against you in a civil proceeding later on down the road, whereas a No Contest Plea cannot.  For instance, if you throw a brick through a person’s window, you will be criminally prosecuted for Damage to Property or Criminal Mischief.  At the same time, the person who owns the window may sue you civilly requesting payment for the damage you caused to their window.  If you plead no contest in criminal court, the person with the broken window will have to put on evidence in the civil case proving that you broke the window and cannot use the criminal case against you in court.  If you plead guilty in criminal court, the person with the broken window can use the guilty plea against you in the civil lawsuit to prove liability.  If you plan on entering a plea in accordance with a plea agreement in a criminal case, and you are charged with a criminal offense that could eventually lead to a civil lawsuit (i.e. assault, damage to property, car accident, theft, embezzlement, etc.), you will want to enter a plea of no contest instead of guilty whenever possible.

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