Criminal defendants are required to enter pleas in each In most cases, the defendant will enter a plea of ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty,’ according to William R. Moore a defense attorney who has experience all levels of criminal practice, from sex crimes to DUI.
Some defendants prefer to plead ‘nolo contendere,’ which literally means no contest, or that the defendant does not contest the criminal charge or charges he is facing. A plea of nolo contendere is not technically a guilty plea, but it is treated in much the same way.
A defendant who does not have a good defense will often take a no contest plea as part of a plea bargain. In Florida, the nolo contendere plea can be used like a guilty plea or a conviction when calculating the recommended sentencing for later criminal convictions. Sentencing is frequently enhanced based on the defendant’s prior criminal record, particularly when the defendant has a history of crimes involving the use of firearms.
In modern criminal law, the nolo contendere plea comes from our English predecessors, says Fort Lauderdale criminal lawyer William Moore. Some scholars have argued that is original origins are actually biblical, coming from a meeting of Jesus and Pontius Pilate in which Jesus neither agreed with Pilate nor admitted any guilt to the charge of promoting himself as the Messiah. The theory maintains that this stance was the basis for the modern no contest plea.
Alford pleas are different than pleas of guilty, not guilty, and even nolo contendere. An Alford plea is one in which the defendant admits that the government has enough evidence to meet its burden of proving the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The defendant maintains that he is innocent of the charge of which he has been accused, but declines to proceed in his defense in light of the evidence the prosecution has against him. The court then treats the defendant as though he is guilty and will impose sentencing. The judge hearing the defendant’s case must determine that there is a factual basis for the defendant’s plea, as with true guilty pleas. Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney William R. Moore always discusses plea options thoroughly with clients -- and frequently takes cases to trial.
The Alford plea, unlike the no contest plea, is a relatively new invention.
In 1970, the United States Supreme Court heard a now-famous case from North Carolina. State law provided that a defendant who pleads guilty to a capital felony – murder, in this case – will only face life in prison. However, if the defendant preferred to go to trial, he would face the death penalty if convicted, or the jury could recommend life imprisonment in the alternative. With that in mind, Alford agreed to plead guilty, although he maintained that he was an innocent man at every step of the process. He appealed his sentence, arguing that he was compelled to plead guilty due to his fear of capital punishment. The Supreme Court ruled that he made a voluntary choice and that his constitutional rights were not violated.
If you or your child have been charged with a crime, contact William R. Moore, , which has experienced south Florida criminal defense lawyers with offices in Fort Lauderdale-Dade, Broward, and Fort Lauderdale Counties. Criminal Defense Attorneys at our law firm handle all types of criminal defense, including DUI, assault, drug possession, and others.
William R. Moore Criminal Defense Attorneys
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Broward County, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33394