Please Explain The Types Of Pleas Available In A Criminal Case

Being charged with committing a crime can be a frightening and intimidating event. The resolution of criminal cases requires the completion of a fair legal process. This legal process typically begins with the individual charged with a crime entering a plea with the court.

The type of plea that you enter can affect how your criminal case will move forward. It's important to understand the differences between the four types of pleas available to you in a criminal case.

1. Not Guilty

The not guilty plea is reserved for those individuals who want the opportunity to prove their innocence in court. Once you enter a plea of not guilty, your case will move forward to the trial process. A jury of your peers will be tasked with hearing the evidence both for and against you, then determining if you should be found guilty.

You must accept the punishment handed down by the court if a jury returns a guilty verdict following your trial. There is no guarantee that you will be found innocent during a trial, but pleading not guilty is the only way to ensure you are afforded the opportunity to participate in a trial.

2. Guilty

If you wish to avoid the expense and stress of a jury trial, you can opt to enter in a guilty plea with the court. Pleading guilty means that you are admitting to committing the crime you have been charged with.

The judge presiding over your case will consider the facts used to obtain your arrest warrant, as well as any statutory guidelines, to determine your punishment. The judge reserves sole discretion in sentencing for cases where a defendant enters a guilty plea.

3. No Contest

It's important that you discuss the evidence associated with your case with your attorney as you prepare to enter a plea with the court. There are situations where the evidence is sufficient enough to predict that a jury will convict in the event a case goes to trial.

In order to avoid the possibility of receiving a harsh penalty following a trial loss, some defendants opt to enter a no contest plea with the court. By pleading no contest, you are neither admitting nor denying that you committed the crime.

4. Alford Plea

A relatively unknown plea that is available to you in a criminal case is the Alford plea. This plea is similar to a plea of no contest in that you are acknowledging that there is enough evidence to assume a jury will convict you if your case goes to trial.

An Alford plea differs from a no contest plea in the sense that you are still proclaiming your innocence when entering this plea with the court. For more information, contact a company like Taylor Law Firm.