Stiefvater Law, LLC
DUI Lawyers & Criminal Attorneys


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Plea Options - Not Guilty - No Contest - Guilty

Your Plea Options

When you are charged with a crime – any crime – you have three plea options.  You are to enter a plea at your preliminary hearing or arraignment.  If you received a waiverable traffic ticket, payment of the fine constitutes your plea (guilty).  A plea of "No Contest" is NOT the same as Not Guilty.  Contact a knowledgeable and experienced defense attorney prior to your court date to discuss your options.   A good lawyer should not charge you for the initial consultation.

The three plea options available are:


No Contest; or

Not Guilty

Guilty Plea 

If you plead Guilty, you are admitting that you committed the crime, violation, or offense of which you have been charged. You are giving up many of your rights. These include, but are not limited to your right to representation, your right to a trial, and your right to compel witnesses to testify.

Often times, an individual feels that if they do not enter a guilty plea at the first hearing – and are later found guilty or change their plea – that the court will give them a much harsher sentence for not pleading guilty at the onset. This is absolutely not the case - do not make this mistake and give up your Constitutional Rights!!!

Even if you feel you are guilty – if you enter a guilty plea at your first hearing – you are giving up the opportunity to have the charges against you dismissed or reduced. The police and the prosecution have a strict set of rules to follow and often a difficult case to prove. Contact a defense lawyer before you give up your rights.

No Contest 

If you enter a plea of No Contest, you are not admitting that you committed the crime, violation, or offense of which you have been charged – but you are admitting to the facts alleged against you – and you will be found GUILTY!

This plea is the least understood and most often used. Too many people believe that they should walk into their first court hearing and enter a “no contest” plea. They do not understand that they will be found just as guilty as if they had entered a “guilty plea”. The biggest benefit to a no contest plea is that the plea cannot be used against you later (typically in a civil lawsuit for personal injury).

Not Guilty 

A plea of not guilty is the best option – it gives you the opportunity to view the evidence against you, file pre-trial and evidentiary motions, and is the only option that will give you the chance of walking out of the courtroom with the charges dismissed.

When you enter a plea of “not guilty” you are essentially telling the court (and the prosecution) that you want to exercise your rights given to you by the Constitution of the United States of America.

If your case is pending in a Mayor's Court, contact Founding Attorney Robert Stiefvater prior to entering any plea as a Not Guilty plea will result in your case being transferred to the Municipal Court.


If you do not understand your plea options – or the consequences that will follow with each – contact a defense attorney BEFORE you make a uniformed decision. There are many lawyers who should be willing to discuss your options, your rights, your case and your defense. If you would feel more comfortable speaking directly with Founding Attorney Robert Stiefvater, his cell number is 440-376-9732.