I Want to Get this Case over With, What Can I Do?

Guilty and No Contest Pleas

A client can change his plea of not guilty to either “guilty” or “no contest” at any time. A guilty or no contest plea can also be negotiated between the prosecutor, the defense attorney and the client. In exchange for the client’s acceptance of the negotiated plea, the prosecutor may drop or reduce charges, or agree to a lesser sentence. If the prosecutor makes a plea offer, the defense attorney has an ethical duty to tell the client about the plea offer, even if the client has previously told the attorney that he wants to go to trial. The client has the right to accept or reject a plea offer.

If the plea is guilty or no contest, the client gives up significant rights and may face serious consequences. The defense attorney may offer advice, however.

Before accepting the guilty or no contest plea, the judge will question the client to make sure that he understands his rights; there was no improper pressure to accept the plea; the client knows what he is doing; he voluntarily agrees to the plea, and evidence in the case supports a finding of guilt.

If the judge accepts the plea, the judge will then proceed to sentence the client.
 

Consequences of a Guilty or No Contest Plea

When a client enters a guilty or no contest plea, he relinquishes certain rights, such as the right to:

  • Investigate the case further
  • Proceed to trial
  • Have an attorney represent him at trial
  • Compel the attendance of witnesses at trial
  • Confront witnesses who testify against him
  • Testify at trial
  • Remain silent at trial
  • Appeal

 

For an overview of consequences to a minor who is arrested or convicted, click here

 

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Law Offices of the Public Defender
Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida

 

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