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Category: Criminal Law
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Experience:  Civil litigation attorney for individuals and businesses.
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Does a guilty plea generally help or hurt someone?

Customer Question

Does a guilty plea generally help or hurt someone?
Submitted: 3 months ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 3 months ago.

Dear Customer,

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A "guilty" plea means that the defendant admits to the conduct, as well as the legal conclusion that the actions were against the law. The defendant waives any defenses to the case and allows the court to impose penalties according to the charges as identified by the prosecutor's office.

A "no contest" plea is very similar to a "guilty" plea, with the significant exception that the defendant is not admitting to anything, they are simply stating that they are not going to defend themselves. The court will then move forward imposing penalties just as in a guilty plea.

A "not guilty" plea is where the defendant contests the charges imposed against them (either due to facts or to legal conclusion - the plea does not have to make a distinction), and the matter will proceed towards trial.

I would not recommend making a "guilty" plea without thoroughly consulting with a local criminal defense attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, you are entitled to have one appointed to you by the court. Contact your local public defender's office and ask them to assign you an attorney.

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