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Understanding a No Contest Plea in an Illinois DUI Case

 Posted on December 00, 0000 in DUI

no contest, plea agreements, Illinois Criminal Defense AttorneyWhen you are arraigned on criminal charges of any type, including driving under the influence (DUI), you are given the opportunity to enter a plea. You may choose to plead not guilty and exercise your constitutionally-guaranteed right to a trial, or, depending on the evidence against you, you wish to avoid a trial, plead guilty, and accept your conviction. There may, however, be a third option available to you, one that is often used in conjunction with plea agreements. Based on the advice of a qualified criminal defense attorney, you may also be able plead no contest.

Nolo Contendere

The plea of no contest is sometimes referred to as nolo contendere, which is a Latin phrase meaning "I will not contest." Entering such a plea, in most cases, is similar to pleading guilty, but with a major notable difference. Pleading guilty indicates that the you acknowledge your role in the alleged crime, essentially admitting that you committed the act of which you are charged. As a result, you will be formally found guilty and a sentence will be imposed by the court. In a plea of no contest, however, there is no implied admission or denial of guilt; instead, you generally accept the penalties that would be associated with a guilty plea without officially being found guilty.

Why Does It Matter?

If the punishments are the same, it would seem nearly pointless to plead no contest rather than pleading guilty. However, the difference lies in the possibility of other court proceedings that a guilty plea may affect. A guilty plea and subsequent adjudication of guilt creates a public record that can be used as evidence against you in future trials or proceedings.

For example, assume you were involved in an auto accident that caused serious property damage to another person’s home. Following the accident, you were arrested on charges of DUI.  a conviction or a guilty plea would provide the claimant homeowner with verified evidence of your behavior to use in his or her civil suit for damages. Pleading no contest can allow you to accept the court’s penalties related to DUI without providing a guilty plea as evidence for future use.

No Contest Is Not a Guaranteed Right

It is extremely important to understand, though, that criminal defendants in Illinois are not automatically entitled to the right to plead no contest. In fact, the law regarding criminal proceedings makes no references to no contest pleas whatsoever. During the arraignment process, however, the judge may choose to allow a no contest plea depending upon the circumstances of your case and the existence of other pending proceedings.

If you have been charged with DUI and need to know more about the possibility of pleading no contest, contact an experienced Kane County criminal defense attorney. We invite you to meet with our knowledgeable team to discuss your case, ask questions, and get the answers you need. Call 847-488-0889 today to schedule your complimentary consultation.


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