A commonly-cited “statistic” says that nine out of every ten lawsuits – both civil and criminal cases – are resolved through a plea agreement or settlement agreement. In the criminal context, these sorts of agreements generally require the defendant to enter a plea to one or more charges in return for some agreed-upon sentencing recommendation or other disposition. Plea agreements are beneficial to both the prosecutor and the defendant in most cases: the prosecutor is able to secure a conviction without the uncertainty of a jury trial while the defendant knows what will happen to him or her (and what will happen is usually better than what he or she would face if there were no agreement).
Types of Pleas Available in an Ohio Criminal Case
As mentioned above, a plea agreement requires the defendant to enter a plea to one or more charges. Sometimes a plea agreement will specify what plea the defendant will enter; other times, the defendant is free to enter any plea he or she chooses. The pleas that a criminal defendant canenter include:
- Not guilty: A not guilty plea is informing the court that the defendant believes he or she is innocent of the charges and wishes to require the prosecution to prove his or her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at a trial. Entering a not guilty plea is notan option for defendants who have been offered a plea agreement and wish to enter into that plea agreement. In that circumstance, entering a not guilty plea would result in the case being set for trial and any plea agreement being nullified.
- Guilty: A guilty plea is an admission by the defendant that he or she did in fact commit the crime or crimes he or she is accused of doing. This admission relieves the prosecutor of any obligation to prove the defendant is guilty by presenting evidence and testimony that proves the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
- No contest: Also referred to as a plea of nolo contendere, a no contest plea is not an admission of guilt by the defendant. Instead, by entering this plea the defendant is indicating that he or she is not contesting the prosecution’s evidence but is admitting that, if such evidence were to be believed, then a judge or jury could find the defendant guilty of the crime or crimes with which he or she is charged. This plea is particularly useful for individuals who are facing a civil lawsuit as a result of the crime and do not want their plea agreements to subject them to civil liability.
- Alfordplea: Named after the U.S. Supreme Court Case Alford v. North Carolina, this is a plea in which the defendant informs the court that he or she is maintaining his or her innocence and is not admitting guilt; nonetheless, he or she recognizes the benefit(s) of the plea agreement offered to him or her and wishes to take advantage of the plea agreement. After entering an Alfordplea, the court finds the defendant guilty of the offense(s) he or she is charged with so long as the court finds there are facts and evidence that would support a guilty verdict if the case proceeded to trial.
Speak with Dawes Legal, LLC Today About Your Criminal Case
Before you enter any sort of plea or accept a plea agreement, let us have the opportunity to go over the details of your agreement with you and discuss your potential pleas. This can help you avoid any unexpected and unanticipated consequences of your agreement. Contact the office of Dawes Legal, LLC by calling (614) 733-9999.