No Contest Plea
Charged with a crime? Unsure what to do or say in court? Call Michigan criminal lawyer, Aaron J. Boria today (734) 453-7806.
What is a No Contest plea?
The three most common pleas in court are not guilty, guilty, and no contest. The latter two end the case without trial as the defendant is no longer defending and the case proceeds to the sentencing phase. A nolo contendere plea, or more commonly known as a no contest plea is basically the same as a guilty plea, but it does not require the defendant to admit fault.
With a no contest plea, the defendant is essential saying, “I’m not saying I committed the crime, I’m not saying I didn’t commit the crime, but I am not going to defend against the allegations and you can treat me as if I was found guilty.”
Per MCL 767.37, a court may accept a plea of nolo contendere (no contest) and if such a plea is accepted, the court shall proceed as if the defendant had pleaded guilty.” MCL 767.37.
Guilty Plea v No Contest Plea
What is the difference between a guilty plea and a no contest plea? When someone enters a guilty plea they must establish a factual basis. A defendant gives a factual basis by expelling to the court what it is they did that makes them guilty. From there, the case moves onto sentencing.
For example, if a defendant was pleading guilty to assault and battery they would have to tell the judge that they pushed, shoved, hit, or made some kind of offensive contact with the victim and that the action was on purpose and not in self defense.
When someone enters a plea of no contest the defendant themselves does not admit the factual basis. Instead, the court will review information from the case to establish the factual basis, most commonly the court will review the police report. If the court reviews the police report and believe’s there is reason to believe that the defendant committed the crime they are accused of then the no contest plea is accepted and the case is moved on to sentencing.
Why plea No Contest?
There are two reasons that a court allows a person to plea no contest rather than guilty. If the defendant lacks a recollection of what happened because they became unconscious, they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time the offense was carried out, or otherwise do not remember what happened then they can plea no contest.
The second reason a person can plea no contest is when there is potential civil liability. This is most common in cases involving injury or property damage.
In a criminal case the burden of proof is beyond a reasonable doubt. In a civil case the burden is only a preponderance of the evidence, a much lower standard. This means that a victim in a criminal case can easily sue someone in civil court and win by using the defendant’s guilty plea from criminal court against the defendant in civil court. This is because the defendant is admitting fault in a criminal case where the standard of proof is higher and establishing the reasons they are at fault.
(The opposite is not true, this is why O.J. Simpson was found guilty in civil court, but was able to be found not guilty in criminal court.)
In order to avoid a victim getting a windfall in civil court, a defendant can plead no contest. This allows the defendant to resolve their case in criminal court when they do not want to go to trial and protects them in civil court because the defendant is not admitting to the allegations.
Michigan Criminal Lawyer
If you have been charged with a crime then you need to contact Michigan criminal lawyer, Aaron J. Boria. We fight for your rights and work for the best possible outcome in every case. Call (734) 453-7806 today!