By: William C. Head, book author on Georgia DUI laws, and Larry Kohn, AVVO superstar with over 430 DUI lawyer ratings
Nolo contendere is a Latin phrase, meaning “I do not wish to contend” or contest this case. In other words, you don’t want to fight the DUI charge in court, but also you do not admit (on a public record) your guilt. Certain negative consequences in a related DUI accident justify law firms near me trying to use a no contest plea in some car wreck cases.
Clients ask us, “Is nolo contendere a guilty plea?” Typically, when charged with a crime, a defendant will plead “guilty” to “not guilty.” The nolo contendere plea, or no contest plea, is when a person offers not to contest the criminal charge or traffic violation (e.g., driving recklessly, driving without insurance, driving without a valid license, obstructing traffic, etc.).
The nolo plea means you are not admitting guilt or fighting to prove innocence and are asking to simply close out the case with this alternative plea. Some states, like North Carolina, have curtailed the use of a nolo contendere plea in DUI-DWI cases.
Pleading nolo can be very useful to avoid having points added to your license by merely taking the punishment handed to you. You can only use the nolo contendere plea once every five years, however, and although done, it does not mean that the judge will grant the nolo plea.
Don’t forget that being charged is not the same as a conviction, so pleading nolo for speeding ticket, for example, may not be your best option! Although pleading nolo in GA can be beneficial, hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney from our firm would help explain the laws more clearly and help to decide if pleading nolo contendere is the correct route for your case.
A nolo plea is not the same as a guilty plea. Recall what nolo is to not admitting guilt or otherwise. The different consequences of guilty and no contest are that in both cases, the Georgia Department of Driver Services is notified. Plus, the traffic violation is added to your motor vehicle report and criminal record. The limited value the no contest plea has is in shielding a person who may have civil liability from a DUI-related car accident from making the civil litigation case irrefutable, by admitting GUILT to being too drunk to drive safely.
So, is entering a “no contest” plea the same as an Alford plea? Both are special pleas to close out the case. The Alford plea is named for a United States Supreme Court case decided in 1970, North Carolina v. Alford. This plea differs from a “nolo” plea because you are claiming your innocence to a crime but are admitting that the State’s existing evidence against you would almost certainly convict you. The Alford plea (which is like a GUILTY plea) is entered for purposes of reducing prison time and other punishment.
Anyone under the age of 21 may not plead no contest. The language of the statutory prohibition to such a plea is OCGA 40-6-391 (k)(3), which reads:
No plea of nolo contendere shall be accepted for any person under the age of 21 charged with a violation of this Code section.
Anything that appears on a motor vehicle report is visible to automobile insurance companies, so even though the citation and fine were paid, points were not added to your license, and the violation doesn’t appear on your criminal record, it will still be on your MVR and could increase insurance premiums.
Also keep in mind that if a judge determines not to accept your court plea of no contest, the nolo plea is still considered used and you will not have the chance to use the plea again for the next five years. So, should you be pleading no contest to a speeding ticket or another traffic charge?
If you are facing criminal charges for a misdemeanor traffic violation in Georgia, don’t decide to make a nolo plea without help and don’t wait to act. Just searching for “lawyers near me” is not going to get you the best defense. Call our law office to learn about our aggressive representation of citizens facing a driving under the influence charge.
Our criminal lawyers return calls on WEEKENDS and HOLIDAYS, so call NOW at 404-567-5515. If you cannot call, fill out our online contact form to speak with our three Super Lawyers: William Head, Larry Kohn, or Cory Yager and receive your FREE lawyer consultation! Ask about our attorney’s fees, payment plans, and credit cards being accepted.
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