In your first appearance in your criminal law case, a judge will ask you to enter a plea. You can plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest. Your choice of plea will determine what happens next in your case.
You may have many opportunities to enter your plea. Entering a plea later in your case can help you make a deal that satisfies prosecutors’ need for punishment and your need to move forward.
Here is an overview of some types of pleas in a criminal law case.
Florida law allows three types of pleas:
Not guilty means you deny every material allegation made against you. A plea of not guilty preserves your right to challenge any or all of the facts in the indictment or information used to charge you.
Guilty means you accept all of the material allegations against you. If you plead guilty, the judge will set your case for sentencing or may sentence you immediately if you plead guilty pursuant to a predetermined agreement with the prosecutor. Depending on your charges, the judge may order you to remain in jail until your sentencing hearing. Sometimes you can plead guilty, but not admit to the facts. Instead, you plead guilty “in your best interest.”
No contest means that you will not challenge any of the material allegations against you. In effect, a plea of no contest is the same as a guilty plea. But a no-contest plea allows you to avoid admitting your guilt in open court. This can make a difference in other matters in your life, such as custody disputes or employment. Sometimes courts and prosecutors will not agree to accept a no contest plea.
You will enter a plea during your initial appearance in court. If you remain silent or dispute any allegation, the judge will enter a plea of not guilty on your behalf.
If you reach a plea bargain, you will enter a new plea of guilty or no contest when you accept the deal. This will override an earlier plea of not guilty.
Your plea will affect the course of your case. To learn about the risks and benefits of each type of plea, reach out to Shrader & Mendez, Attorneys at Law, by completing our online form or calling 813-360-1529.
Posted in Criminal Defense
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