Can I plead no contest to my DUI charges? 56 Answers as of July 20, 2012

Can I plead no contest or nolo? If I am charged already, will pleading no contest make any difference to my case?

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Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC
Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC | Jacob Peter Sartz IV
If you need specific legal advice for your particular circumstances, I encourage you to privately consult with a lawyer. If you are charged with an offense and cannot afford to pay for your own defense, the court may appoint you an attorney payable at the public's expense. You have a right to counsel. Pleading no contest carries the same potential penalties as a guilty plea; the difference is that you are not formally admitting guilt under the sworn testimony of a plea proceeding. As a result, it may shield you, somewhat, from having an admission of guilt that could be used against you in a civil proceeding. This is a big issue in domestic violence cases when there are pending family law matters such as child custody disputes or CPS investigations. Further, this is a big issue if, with an OUI charge, for example, the alleged victim was injured. However, judges often are wary of no-contest pleas and they should only be available in circumstances where the person is concerned about civil liability or they lack memory of the event due to intoxication. I would not recommend you contemplate any sort of plea unless you fully understand all of the potential consequences. I'd recommend you consult with an attorney regarding this issue.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 7/20/2012
The Short Law Group, P.C.
The Short Law Group, P.C. | Shawn Kollie
In Oregon a DUI has a maximum penalty of 1 year in custody and a $6,250 fine. These are serious consequences that are always better to have legal counsel to help guide you through. An defendant can change their plea to Guilty or No Contest at any time, but these two pleas will have the same effect. It would always be best to at least sit down and talk with a DUI Lawyer before proceeding with a Guilty Plea.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 4/20/2012
The Jordan Law Firm
The Jordan Law Firm | John Paul Jordan
Generally, you have to plead guilty or not guilty. Nolo Contendre means I am not fighting it but will not dispute the charges. Most District Attorney's offices ( I would not say all, as I do not know) will make you plead guilty.
Answer Applies to: Oklahoma
Replied: 4/10/2012
Law Office of Phillip Weiser
Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
Yes, you could plead No Contest. The result will be the same as if you pleaded guilty.
Answer Applies to: Kansas
Replied: 4/9/2012
Law Office of Michael R. Garber
Law Office of Michael R. Garber | Michael R. Garber
If you had an accident it will make your plea inadmissible in a civil case if you plead no contest. Otherwise there's no difference.
Answer Applies to: Louisiana
Replied: 4/9/2012
    Law Office of Brian K. Wanerman
    Law Office of Brian K. Wanerman | Brian K. Wanerman
    Pleading nolo contendere (no contest) has the same practical effect as pleading guilty. If you plead nolo, you will be sentenced. You will also have to give up your right to remain silent, and your right to a trial and all the rights that go along with it. You should consult an attorney before deciding to take this plea.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/9/2012
    The Law Office of Kevin O'Grady
    The Law Office of Kevin O'Grady | Kevin O'Grady
    The government has alleged that you committed a crime. Of course it is possible you could plead no contest, and no contest is the same as guilty for all intensive purposes. You will have a criminal conviction, that in Hawaii, you cannot expunge. Without more I cannot discern why you would want to plead no contest. If you fight there is at least a chance you will be found not guilty or the charge dismissed. Hire an aggressive attorney and go the distance and ultimately you may not have a conviction.
    Answer Applies to: Hawaii
    Replied: 4/9/2012
    Timothy J. Thill P.C.
    Timothy J. Thill P.C. | Timothy J. Thill
    This depends on the law applicable in the state where the case originated. Here in Illinois, we do not recognize the plea of nolo contender, it is a straight plea of guilty or not guilty.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 4/9/2012
    Law Office of Richard Williams
    Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
    In Alabama you must either plead guilty or not guilty.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 4/9/2012
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S.
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S. | Steve Freeborn
    Yes you may plead no contest, but that is a guilty plea and you will be subject to the DUI penalties, depending upon how many priors you have. The penalties can be suubstantial.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 4/9/2012
    Law Offices of James A Bates
    Law Offices of James A Bates | James A Bates
    Nolo is the same as guilty except it saves you a lot of grief if there was an accident. If there was an accident, a guilty plea to the charge makes it much easier for the victim to sue you in civil court.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/6/2012
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law | Charles M. Schiff
    Minnesota does not recognize a "no contest plea". You are either "guilty" or "not guilty". Remember, a "charge" is not a conviction. The state must prove guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt". A charge just means that the state believes that you have committed the offense charged.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 4/6/2012
    Law Office of Michael Morgan, l.L.C.
    Law Office of Michael Morgan, l.L.C. | Michael Morgan
    Washington state does not have a no contest plea. An Alford plea or a Newton plea is a guilty plea in which you don't actually confess to your guiltand some courts permit this type of plea. Mike Morgan Email transmissions to clients of this office presumably contain confidential and privileged material for the sole use of the intended recipient. The use, distribution, transmittal or re-transmittal by any unintended recipient of any communication is prohibited without our express approval in writing or by email. If you are not the intended recipient please contact the sender and delete all copies.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 4/6/2012
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly | Brendan M. Kelly
    No contest makes no difference and some judges will not allow it.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 4/6/2012
    Hynum Law Office, LLC
    Hynum Law Office, LLC | G. Wayne Hynum
    You can plead no contest if the Judge allows it. Some Judges refuse to accept a nolo plea. A no contest or nolo plea means that you are not admitting that you are guilty, as you would with a guilty plea, no contest or nolo means you are not contesting the charges. When you plead nolo or no contest, the Judge will then find you guilty. A nolo or no contest plea is usually entered when you intend to appeal the conviction to a higher court.
    Answer Applies to: Mississippi
    Replied: 4/6/2012
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
    In criminal court pleading no contest to a DUI will have the same effect as pleading guilty. However, if there will be an action against you in civil court a no contest cannot be used to establish fault but a guilty plea would. Some DA's will insist on a guilty plea if there was an accident involved or injuries as a result of the DUI.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/6/2012
    Glass Defense Firm
    Glass Defense Firm | Jason M. Glass
    You can plead no contest, but it will not make a difference as to what criminal penalties you receive. However, if a first offense DUI, it will not result in an automatic license suspension through the DMV like a guilty plea would. You will still be afforded a hearing on that side.
    Answer Applies to: West Virginia
    Replied: 4/6/2012
    Larry K. Dunn & Associates | Larry K. Dunn
    A No Contest plea would be treated the same as a guilty plea by the court. The difference is that a No Contest plea is appropriate if there was an accident involved which could subject you to civil damages. Some courts use No Contest pleas much like a guilty plea 'with an explanation' but the legal effect does not change.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 4/6/2012
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    There is no "no contest" plea in NY. You really need a lawyer. Don't be foolish. Even a lawyer would hire a lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 4/6/2012
    Law Offices of John Carney
    Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
    You should retain a good criminal lawyer to advise you on how to proceed. New York does not allow a "no contest "plea, but that is actually a guilty plea anyway with the same consequences, they just do not make you admit it at the plea. You will either plead guilty or take the case to trial. Since a DWI conviction will increase your insurance to as much as $10,000 a year and make it hard to get a good job it is wise to get an expert DWI lawyer to try to get the best possible resolution in the case which is usually a DWUI violation. It would have been a lot cheaper and safer to take a taxi if you were intoxicated.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 4/6/2012
    Michael Breczinski
    Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
    No contest is only a way of pleading guilty where you do not have to recite facts that show you are guilty. If you an your attorney have not sat down with the procsecutor and at least worked out some deal, why would you want to plead guilty? That would lose you any bargaining power. To plead guilty right off the bat is a dumb move usually.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 4/6/2012
    Law Office of Joe Dane
    Law Office of Joe Dane | Joe Dane
    No contest has exactly the same consequence as a guilty plea does except that if you were to be sued civilly for the same set of facts, they couldn't use your guilty plea against you as proof of what you did. If this is a standard DUI with no collision or injuries, it doesn't matter if it's a no contest or guilty plea, since nobody is going to sue you. A no contest will count exactly the same as a guilty plea. Same punishment, same fines, same everything. If you plead no contest, you'll be convicted of DUI. You really, really should sit down with a local criminal defense attorney to discuss your case before doing anything. One last thing - you only have/had 10 days from the date of your arrest to contact the DMV to request a hearing to fight the automatic suspension of your license. Discuss all this with your attorney.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/6/2012
    San Diego DUI Law Center
    San Diego DUI Law Center | Rick Mueller
    You must. Only if civil claim pending.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/6/2012
    Gregory Casale Attorney at Law
    Gregory Casale Attorney at Law | Gregory Casale
    I don't know why you would want to plead no contest. Specific advice about your own case is something only your attorney can provide. I strongly advise that you consult with an attorney about your case.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 4/6/2012
    Nelson & Lawless
    Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
    Sure. That is exactly the same as guilty, but the plea can't be used against you in a civil suit to prove fault ir you were involved in a collision. When arrested or charged with any crime, the proper questions are, can any evidence obtained in a test, search or confession be used against you, can you be convicted, and what can you do? Raise all appropriate defenses with whatever witnesses, evidence and sympathies are available for legal arguments, for evidence suppression or other motions, or for trial. While this isn't a 'capital case', you certainly face potential jail and fines, so handle it right. If you don't know how to represent yourself effectively against an experienced prosecutor intending to convict, then hire an attorney that does, who will try to get a dismissal, diversion program, charge reduction, or other decent outcome through plea bargain, or take it to trial if appropriate. A little free advice: When arrested for DUI, whether alcohol or drugs, then upon release from jail or booking the defendant is given documents that include a notice that you have only ten days to file a request with DMV for a hearing on an appeal of an automatic suspension of your license imposed by DMV. That is separate and runs consecutively with any suspension that may be imposed by the court. Contact DMV and do so, timely, then appear at your scheduled DMV appeal hearing and present any supporting evidence and testimony. If you don't know how to do these things effectively, then hire an attorney that does.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/6/2012
    Law Offices of Matthew Murillo
    Law Offices of Matthew Murillo | Matthew Murillo
    A no contest plea makes no difference in a criminal court setting. It doesn't change the plea or the conviction at all. The only thing it can do is prevent a victim (if an accident was involved) from using the conviction to prove your at fault for any damage to their person or property. However, if there is no injury or property damage, a No Contest plea will do nothing for you.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/6/2012
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC | Timothy J. Klisz
    Yes you can, if allowed and no it won't affect your case.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 4/6/2012
    Goolsby Law Office
    Goolsby Law Office | Richard Goolsby
    Generally, pleading nolo contendere, or no contest, may be a useful or advisable option to consider with your attorney, for example, if there has also been an auto accident and the party wishes to try to avoid admitting liability which could be used in the subsequent civil suit. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 4/6/2012
    Law Office of Michael Bialys THE DUI MAN
    Law Office of Michael Bialys THE DUI MAN | Michael Bialys
    Understand that a plea of no contest is still regarded as a conviction.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/6/2012
    Gary Moore, Attorney at Law
    Gary Moore, Attorney at Law | Gary Moore
    There is no such plea on a dui. A plea is either guilty or not guilty.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 4/6/2012
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    Pleading no contest is generally better than pleading guilty, because a no contest plea cannot be used against you in civil court. But you ought to consult a DUI specialist before pleading to a DUI. The consequences are far-reaching and severe, and many people come to regret their pleas after the fact, when it is too late.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/6/2012
    Law Office of Edward J. Blum
    Law Office of Edward J. Blum | Edward J. Blum
    Yes you can, you shouldn't though.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/6/2012
    Lawrence Lewis
    Lawrence Lewis | Lawrence Lewis, PC
    Yes you can plead nolo. No, it will not make any difference. It will still be regarded as a conviction.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 4/6/2012
    H. Scott Basham, Attorney at Law, P.C. | H. Scott Basham
    If you plead no contest, and the court allows it, your plea cannot be used against you in a civil case arising out of the same incident. This is important if you caused a two (or more) car wreck while DUI.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 4/6/2012
    Betts Legal Services
    Betts Legal Services | Shawn M. Betts
    In Minnesota you cannot enter a no contest plea. A guilty plea can be entered under an Alford-Goulet basis, where a person takes advantage of a plea agreement by pleading guilty, but admitting only that if a trial were to be held, and the evidence as it has been presented in the police reports were introduced, they would likely be convicted. But the outcome/sentence will be identical.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 4/5/2012
    Law Offices of Kate Mesic, PA
    Law Offices of Kate Mesic, PA | Kate L. Mesic
    The judge could allow you to plea no contest, if there was damage to another vehicle or injury to a person, there could be civil ramifications against you, so a plea of no contest is a better option. However, you need to speak to an attorney before you enter a plea.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 4/6/2012
    Attorney at Law | Steven E. Ferguson
    It would make your plea inadmissible in any civil case since a plea of guilty is an admission that you committed the crime, while a no contest plea does not. This is important if there was an accident and a civil suit is filed.
    Answer Applies to: Oklahoma
    Replied: 4/6/2012
    Pingelton Law Firm | Dan Pingelton
    Not in Missouri.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 4/6/2012
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law | Mark Thiessen
    You only plead no contest for immigration purposes or if you were involved in an accident. Otherwise, don't plead anything unless they absolutely have you and there is no way out. But hire the best lawyer you can afford.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 4/5/2012
    Meadows & Howell, LLC
    Meadows & Howell, LLC | Brad Howell
    Pleading nolo contendere does not lessen the punishment for a DUI. You are essentially accepting responsibility without admitting guilt. The usefulness of the nolo contendere plea comes in when there are related criminal charges or civil suits that may be affected by your guilty plea. A defendant may not want to admit guilt to one crime that might be linked to other actions pending against him or her. Pleading nolo contendere allows the defendant to move ahead in court proceedings without having an admission of guilt on the court records to be used as evidence in another trial. Assuming that there are no other potential charges related to your DUI (such as property damage or injury to others), then pleading nolo contendere really won't do anything for you. You may wish to speak to an attorney to determine what options are available to you in regard to being able to plea down the charges and/or reduce the punishment.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 4/5/2012
    Gutin and Wolverton
    Gutin and Wolverton | Harley Gutin
    Most judges will allow you to plead to a DUI (no contest). Some will not.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 4/5/2012
    Dungan, Lady, Kirkpatrick & Dungan PLLC | Michael Dungan
    A no contest plea is treated the same as a guilty plea for conviction and sentencing purposes.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 4/5/2012
    John Segelbaum, P.S.
    John Segelbaum, P.S. | John Segelbaum
    Yes. It will result in a conviction.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 4/5/2012
    Healan Law Offices
    Healan Law Offices | William D. Healan, III
    A nolo plea really does not do any good. Years ago, you could plead nolo to a first DUI and your license would not be suspended. That law has long since changed. A nolo plea will get you the same thing as a guilty plea now.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 4/5/2012
    The Law Offices of Jaime Cowan
    The Law Offices of Jaime Cowan | Jaime Cowan
    It makes no difference. In Colorado a no contest plea is the same as a guilty plea.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 4/5/2012
    Robert Mortland
    Robert Mortland | Law Office of Robert Mortland
    Pleading no contest is the same as a guilty plea for criminal court purposes. You can enter a no contest plea but you may want to plea bargain first with your attorney.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/5/2012
    The Law Office of Scott M. Aaronson, PLLC | Scott Aaronson
    Of course you could plea no contest to your charges of OWI if you wanted to, but I'm not sure why you would. When you plea no contest, the judge enters in a guilty plea on your behalf and it is in essence the same thing. Some judges make you provide a reason for entering in a no contest plea, but regardless it wont make any difference to your case. Your best bet is to get an experienced attorney to assist you. There is always a small chance you can get the case dismissed on a technicality, or a greater chance that it can be reduced to something (probably impaired).
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 4/5/2012
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