If you are facing criminal charges, the prosecution will typically offer you three options. You could plead guilty, not guilty or no contest. Pleading guilty is admitting you did the crime. Pleading not guilty is either claiming you did not commit the crime, or you had a reasonable justification as to why you did it.
A no contest plea is accepting the charges and the resulting conviction without necessarily admitting guilt. No contest means you do not wish to contest or fight the claims against you.
Pleading no contest
A no contest plea allows you to avoid a lengthy trial and a public admission of guilt. Under certain circumstances, it may even reduce your sentence. However, once you plead no contest, you waive the following:
- Your right to defend yourself
- Your right to a fair and speedy public trial
- Your right to cross-examine witnesses
- Your right to hear and see witness testimonies
Pleading no contest means you accept the conviction and the consequences that come with it. The court may sentence you as if you were guilty of the crime in question unless the prosecutor offers you a plea bargain in exchange for forfeiting your rights to fight the charges.
Why prosecutors offer plea deals
In Missouri, prosecutors aggressively and actively do any means necessary to keep guns, alleged criminals and drugs off the streets. Trials take a lot of time and effort, and they do not guarantee a conviction. Prosecutors use plea bargains to make their job easier and faster.
By accepting a no contest plea, you relinquish your chance at an acquittal thereby making the prosecutor’s job that much easier.