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The difference between "no contest" and "guilty"

Everybody knows what a "not guilty" plea means--that you are innocent and did not do whatever the State is accusing you of. There are two alternative choices that are similar, but have different legal ramifications--"guilty" and "no contest".


A guilty plea is exactly what it sounds like. It is a full admission of guilt of the crime you are charged with. It is telling the State, the Court, and the victim that you did what you are accused of and you are taking full responsibilty for it. Beware, a guilty plea may subject you to civil liability where a victim has been damaged and is seeking to recuperate damages from you. A guilty plea is an admission to actions in a civil trial and all the victim would have to prove against you is damages. Because of the civil liability exposure, guilty pleas are not very common in criminal cases.

No Contest

The most common "plea" in a criminal case is "no contest". A plea of no contest is simply stating "I did not do it, but I am not going to contest the State's evidence against me." For this reason it is often referred to as a "best interest" plea. The effect of a no contest plea is no different than a plea of guilty--you are still sentenced the same regardless of the plea. A no contest plea is often preferred because it does not expose someone to civil liability, since it is not technically an admission to the crime. For the same reason, it is preferred by clients because it allows them to resolve their case, but not fully admit to the crime.

For more information contact us at (941)444-5128 to schedule an appointment.

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