meaning of plea in criminal defense case

If you are charged with committing a crime in Virginia, you must enter a plea at one of your first court hearings. While you would most likely plead not guilty at first, you may change your plea later. Besides pleading guilty or not guilty, you can enter a no contest or an Alford plea. It is essential to understand what an Alford plea is and how it differs from a no contest plea to make the right decision in your criminal case.

How Does an Alford Plea Differ From a No Contest Plea?

You agree to accept the sentence the judge could impose by entering an Alford or no contest plea. However, an Alford plea is slightly different than a no contest plea. 

An Alford plea allows you to insist you are innocent on the record in court. Although the plea claims you are innocent, it also acknowledges that the prosecutor has enough evidence to convict you. 

This is not true if you plead no contest. If you plead no contest, you agree to accept the criminal punishment for the offense without admitting or denying that you committed any crime. 

What Are the Consequences of an Alford Plea?

When you enter an Alford plea, the judge would still treat your case as a conviction and sentence you. If you pled guilty, they could view this as accepting responsibility for your actions and give you a more lenient sentence. However, if you enter an Alford plea and maintain your innocence, the judge could give you a harsher punishment because you are not admitting guilt. 

Deciding what plea to enter is one of the most important decisions you will make in your criminal case. You need the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney to weigh your options. Call our Manassas office at 888-DUI-LWYR, or fill out our online form today to schedule your free initial consultation to learn how we will mount an aggressive defense for you to help you achieve the best outcome in your criminal case.