Many people hearing the term “no contest” while watching one of those television shows might think it is a fancy term for saying they are guilty. It does seem so, as right after, they pay a fine or go to prison. However, a no-contest plea is not a guilty plea precisely. A criminal defense attorney in Houston might consider a no contest plea under some circumstances.
What does it mean?
When you enter a plea of no contest, it means you are not saying you did something, but you are not disputing it, either. That might sound weird, but in legal terms, that is an important distinction. When you plead guilty, you have to tell the court what you did and how you did it. When you plead no contest, you do not have to do that. However, you still get the same sentence either way.
Why plead no contest?
If the evidence against you seems overwhelming, your lawyer might advise you to plead no contest. However, if you still get the same sentence if you plead no contest, there seems no reason to do it. There is a very good reason. When you enter a guilty plea in a criminal case, this is evidence against you in civil court. However, if you enter a no contest plea, it is not.
Why hire a lawyer?
These fine distinctions of the law can have a significant impact on your life. If you do not have a lawyer, and you are in serious trouble, you would probably plead guilty because you did not know any better. For example, if you face charges of driving under the influence (DUI), and all the evidence points to it, your attorney may advise you to plead no contest if someone got hurt. You will still do the time, but if someone sues you, your plea will not be evidence against you.
The law is usually too complicated for most people understand. If you find yourself accused of a crime and do not know what to do, you need to find a criminal defense attorney. They know what to do.