Entering a guilty plea in a criminal case goes beyond the pronouncement of the word, “guilty.” What follows is a discussion of the different types of plea options in California examining the implications of invoking each option.
The California Penal Code provides for six possible pleas to an indictment for information. The three most common pleas are “not guilty,” “guilty,” or “no contest.” Less common are a former judgment of a conviction or acquittal of the offense charged, once in jeopardy, and not guilty by reason of insanity. CPC Section 1016. This post will focus on the first three, or the most common pleas.
How Should I Plead?
To determine which plea option is appropriate for your case, carefully consider the recommendation of your criminal defense attorney. Not only does the criminal defense attorney know the court and its practices in your jurisdiction, but he or she will also be able to share insights on how similar cases were resolved.
“Not Guilty” vs. “Guilty”
When you enter a plea of “not guilty” and a plea deal is not accepted or offered, your case goes to trial before the judge or a jury of no more than 12 people. All other plea options, like “guilty” and “no contest” skip the trial and proceed to sentencing.
The accused person admits to committing the crime and allows the judge to determine the sentence. The jury trial is skipped when an accused person enters a guilty plea.
The accused person neither admits or denies guilt, but acknowledges that the evidence is sufficient to convict should the case go to trial. The jury trial is skipped when an accused person enters a “nolo contendere” plea.
The Role of the Criminal Defense Attorney
The criminal defense attorney is often able to obtain a more favorable deal if you decide to accept a plea. A criminal defense attorney is also able to make sure that everything is done properly, and the correct process is utilized to dispose of your case. Lastly, the criminal defense attorney will help you understand the full consequences of a guilty plea in your particular case.
What to do if You are Charged With a Crime in San Diego
Guilty pleas have an impact outside of the courtroom. It is important for accused persons to discuss the benefits of settling a criminal case and understand the impact of a conviction on their employment options, housing opportunities, gun possession licenses, and voting rights. Continue reading