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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 23516
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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My daughter was arrested last night the scene of

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My daughter was arrested last night for fleeing the scene of an accident and driving without a valid driver's license. There was minimal property damage according to the police officer, listed as $700 on the ticket. In addition, they also issued a ticket to me for allowing an unlicensed driver to operate a vehicle. What should I expect in court, and can we plead no contest in these violations?
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 8 months ago.
Hello, You and your daughter can plead no contest, but the result of that would be a misdemeanor conviction on your record. A plea of no contest has the same effect as a plea of guilty, except in one area: it cannot be used as an admission of guilt in a civil proceeding. So if you think you are likely to be sued, pleading no contest is better than pleading guilty. However, either way what you want to plead at your arraignment is NOT GUILTY. All criminal defendants are presumed innocent under US law unless/until convicted beyond a reasonable doubt. That means that even if you know you did something wrong, you aren't lying to the court by pleading not guilty. A plea of not guilty is the only plea that keeps all of your rights open. Once you plead guilty, you're convicted. So it's customary for criminal defendants to plead not guilty. That allows them the option to take the case to trial if they want to do that. If the case is not one that a defendant wants to try, pleading not guilty allows the defense to plea bargain with the prosecutor. In that way, you and your daughter may be able to avoid a conviction on your records. If that's not possible, the DA still has the ability to reduce the charges, which can allow you to plead to something less serious. In any case, it is unwise to plead guilty or no contest without knowing in advance what sentence you are going to get in exchange for your plea. Once you plead anything other than not guilty, you cannot negotiate anything. You're at the mercy of what the judge wants to impose for that sentence. If you can afford a lawyer, have one with you on your court date and see if he can negotiate some kind of special program for you both that can keep these misdemeanors off of your records. If you cannot, plead not guilty when you are arraigned on your charges on your first court date. Then you can tell the judge that you do not have the financial means to afford a lawyer and ask him to appoint you a public defender. The judge will adjourn the case for a new date for you to meet your lawyer who will take it from there.

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