Nolo Contendere Pleas


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If you have been arrested in the Philadelphia area, your case will work its way through Pennsylvania’s legal system, proceeding through multiple steps that begin with a preliminary arraignment.

The steps in this process go all the way up through a trial and sentencing. But it is likely your case will not proceed through every level. At any time during this process, your case can be settled.

One of the ways your case may be settled is through a nolo contendere plea.

What A Nolo Contendere Plea Means

After the pre-trial conferences are completed, and your attorney has seen the evidence gathered from discovery, you can either choose to have your case go to trial or you can plead guilty.

Pleading guilty means you admit committing the crimes the Commonwealth accused you of.

One kind of guilty plea is a nolo contendere plea.

Nolo contendere is a legal term that is Latin for, “I do not wish to contend.”

In criminal trials in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, if you enter a nolo contendere plea it means you are basically pleading no contest.

In a nolo contendere plea, the prosecution and the judge both agree on what the sentence should be but the defendant probably disagrees. By pleading nolo contendere, you are saying the prosecution has enough evidence to prove their case but you are not guilty of the charge.

If you plead nolo contendere, you will be sentenced the same way you would be if you pleaded guilty. You are still considered guilty in the eyes of the law.

The only possible advantage to pleading nolo contendere instead of simply pleading guilty is that ‘nolo contendere’ will be entered into your criminal record instead of ‘guilty.’ Someone doing a background check on you will see that as your plea.

If you change your mind before sentencing is read and decide to change your plea to guilty, the judge will read a formal statement to make sure you understand you are now pleading guilty. He or she will remind you of your rights, including your right to a jury trial, because by pleading guilty you give up your right to a trial and to filing any further motions.

If you are not under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and you are competent to decide, the judge will then accept your guilty plea. You will either be sentenced at that time or scheduled for sentencing at a later date.

Questions? Contact us today.

As your case moves through Pennsylvania’s legal system, you need an experienced attorney to defend you. Fienman Defense provides honest communication and gives you the solid guidance you need to avoid severe penalties.