Everyone knows the most common pleas in criminal cases: guilty and not guilty. What fewer people know is that there is actually a third option: no contest. A no contest plea is a legal way of accepting the facts of the case without admitting to any guilt. In other words, you will accept that the prosecution has enough facts to convince a judge or jury of your guilt, but you do no have to come out and admit your guilt in court. Generally, you will then be sentenced without a trial.
So why plea no contest in a DUI case? Often, this is part of a plea deal that your Cincinnati DUI lawyer has already worked out with the prosecutor. These deals usually are struck after a defendant fails a chemical test, and there is little way to contest the fact that they were under the influence. Rather than fighting the charges and risking the maximum possible sentence, a person agrees upon a suggested sentence with the prosecution ahead of time in exchange for not fighting the charges. You generally can get a lesser sentence this way.
Since a first-time OVI conviction in Ohio can carry a sentence anywhere from 3 days to 6 months in jail and a fine of anywhere between $375 and $1,075, securing a lesser sentence is often vital to successfully moving on from the conviction with minimal impact on your life.
Why Plea No Contest Instead of Guilty?
Although a no contest plea does not include an admission of guilt, it has the same consequences as if you plead guilty. That’s why many clients wonder why their attorney want to bother with a no contest plea. In many cases, the impact is the same, but in certain cases, a no contest plea can make a big difference in your life.
The most common reason to pursue a no contest plea instead of a guilty plea is if you may face civil proceedings related to the DUI. For example, a person arrested for an OVI after causing an accident faces not only criminal charges but also civil liability for the damage done to the other car and any injuries related to the accident.
If you plead guilty, that admission can be used against you in civil court to prove your fault in the accident. You may face a larger judgement and owe serious damages. A no contest plea, however, can’t be used against you in civil court, since you simply accept the court’s punishment without a formal admission or adjudication of guilt.
No contest pleas are rare in OVI cases and in general, but they can be useful in certain legal scenarios. It’s important to remember, though, that you should never simply plea no contest without the guidance of an attorney at your first appearance in court. Such pleas must be part of a well thought-out legal strategy, or you risk the judge throwing the book at you.
If you have been arrested for an OVI in Cincinnati, call us at Luftman, Heck, and Associates at (513) 338-1890 right away for a free consultation on your case. Out Cincinnati DUI lawyers will discuss your options with you and help you decide on the best course of action to get your case the best possible outcome.