Recently, a Canyon Country man was arrested and charged with making annoying phone calls for the second time. The man, A. Soto, was previously arrested in September for the same alleged crime. He was scheduled to appear in court to face charges this week. When asked to enter a plea, Soto pleaded “no contest” to the misdemeanor charge of making annoying phone calls. He is scheduled to appear in court again in January of 2020 for a progress report.
When a defendant appears in court they are asked to enter a plea. The plea is their formal response to the charges they are facing, and they have several options which include guilty, not guilty, and no contest. When someone pleads not guilty, the court proceedings continue and the prosecutor will eventually lay their case before a jury and attempt to prove that the defendant did, in fact, commit the crime they’re being charged with. A guilty plea results in a guilty verdict without having to go through a trial, and a plea of no contest results in a similar verdict.
The difference between pleading no contest and pleading guilty is subtle but important. when a defendant pleads guilty, they are admitting the facts of the case and their legal culpability. When pleading no contest, a defendant is admitting the facts of the case, but NOT their guilt. Pleading no contest is sort of like saying “I acknowledge the facts against me, and I’m willing to wave my right to defend myself and accept the penalties associated with the crime I am being charged with. However, I am not admitting guilt.
Generally speaking, pleads of no contest and guilty are pretty much the same in the court proceedings that are currently happening. However, pleading no contest can have benefits if there’s a civil trial proceeding the criminal trial. When you plead no contest, it’s more difficult for a prosecutor to use your conviction as evidence against you in a civil trial. When you plead guilty, your conviction can easily be used as evidence against you in any ensuing civil proceeding.
So, pleading no contest doesn’t have much by way of immediate benefits, though it can be helpful in the future.