Should I Plea Not Guilty, Guilty or No Contest?

Apr 26, 2017

Criminal Law

You have been charged with a crime and you need to decide how you will plea. In the State of Wisconsin there are three different ways to plead in your criminal case, not guilty, guilty and no contest. How you plea will have a significant impact on your case, so knowing the difference between your choices is extremely important, as well as having an experienced criminal defense Attorney on your side.


If you plead not guilty, you are stating to the court that you are not admitting to the charges being brought against you. You are maintaining your right to a trial. Remember, you are innocent until proven guilty and it is the state’s job to prove that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.


If you plead guilty, you are admitting to the charges. You have no defense for your actions and are leaving your punishment up for the court to decide. By pleading guilty you are waiving your right to a trial. So even if you are “guilty” of the charges brought against you, you should think twice about pleading guilty at your first court hearing.


If you plead no contest, you are basically telling the court that you do not want to admit guilt but that you do not want to fight the charges. It is very similar to pleading guilty, but is helpful if there may be a future civil case against you for the same incident. By pleading no contest, it will avoid the argument that you have admitted guilt in your criminal case and are therefore guilty in your civil case.


By entering a plea of Not Guilty you reserve your right to a trial and are able to negotiate for a plea bargain. The majority of criminal cases end in a plea bargain. If you are entering in to a Plea Agreement or a Deferred Prosecution Agreement one of the requirements is that you plead guilty or no contest to the charges in exchange for a lesser punishment. Having an experienced criminal attorney help you navigate through the criminal law process is always recommended.

Pedersen Law Office, LLC offers free consults in all of our areas of practice and will meet with you personally to discuss your specific circumstances and see what options are available for you. Our law office serves the communities of Appleton, Neenah, Menasha, Oshkosh, Green Bay and their surrounding areas.

Category: Criminal

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