What is the Difference Between Pleading Guilty, Not Guilty or Nolo Contendere?

Posted by Richard Lawson | Jan 29, 2018 | 0 Comments

When charged with a crime, you have some options as to how you want to plead: “not guilty”, “guilty”, or “nolo contendere.” There are certain situations where you may not be able to plea nolo contendere, but you always have the option to plead “guilty” or “not guilty.” However, you must understand what the consequences are when considering your options. If you are facing criminal charges, the best option is to contact an experienced Georgia DUI Defense Lawyer. The decision you make will last a lifetime. 

Pleading Guilty:

For traffic violations, you can plead guilty by appearing in court or by paying the ticket before your court date. For a misdemeanor charge, a guilty plea will come with consequences of up to a $1,000 fine or one year in jail, or both. Further, points may be assessed on your license. Pleading guilty to a moving violation will be reported to Georgia DDS and will appear on your driving record. 

If you plead guilty to felony charges, the penalties are much more severe and extend beyond jail time or fees. Felony charges on your record can make it difficult to obtain credit, apply for housing, or get a job. You also will lose your right to vote and own a firearm if you plead guilty to a felony in Georgia. 

Pleading Not Guilty:

When a person chooses to contest their charges, they enter a “not guilty” plea. Once your plea is entered, it puts the state on notice that they must prove each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. The result is either a trial by jury or a dismissal of the case.  

An additional possibility is when a "not guilty" plea re-opens the negotiations in the case. Your Georgia DUI Attorney very often uses a "not guilty" plea strategically to seek a reduction to reckless driving. 

Pleading Nolo Contendere in Georgia:

Nolo contendere pleas can be very useful for people charged with misdemeanor traffic offenses. Essentially, a nolo contendere plea is where a person does not contest the charge but accepts the punishment. Pleading nolo contendere will not result in points being assessed against your license, but it will be reported to the Department of Driver Services (DDS). That could result in your insurance premiums being increased. 

When using a nolo plea, the punishment will be the same as if you pled not guilty. Nolo pleas can be used once every five years. If you choose to use it twice, then the second nolo plea will be treated as a guilty plea.

A nolo plea can also be used strategically to avoid admitting civil liability in the event the accused is also facing a civil lawsuit. For more information about the No Contest Plea in Georgia, read about the 10 facts about the nolo contendere plea in Georgia.

Contact Us:

Do not decide how to plead in your case without speaking with a Georgia DUI Defense Attorney! We can walk through your options together and advise you on the best plea for your case. Our office is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week to assist with your case. Contact us now for a free case evaluation. Never face severe Georgia DUI Penalties without first contacting our office. 

About the Author

Richard Lawson

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Georgia DUI Defense Attorneys

At the Law Office of Richard S. Lawson, we have offices conveniently located throughout metro Atlanta and throughout Georgia. If we do not have a convenient office, we will come to you. We practice throughout Metro Atlanta and North Georgia. If your case is in an area we do not serve, we will find you an attorney in your area free of charge. Our office is part of a State-wide network of Georgia DUI Lawyers. Contact us 24/7 for immediate legal help. Our attorneys are standing by. Your DUI Case will not defend itself. Your Best Georgia DUI Defense Begins Here!