When charged with a crime, Minnesota residents have three options. They can plead guilty, not guilty or no contest. What is the difference between the three, and what should you do?
To enter a guilty or no contest plea
Entering a guilty plea means you are accepting the charges and choosing not to fight them. You admit guilt. Entering a no contest plea means you do not admit guilt, but you also do not feel you have enough to fight the case at trial.
Many people enter either of these pleas because they feel going to trial will be a fruitless endeavor. They worry about the outcome. That want certainty. So they agree to plead guilty or enter a plea of no contest and, usually, in doing so, are able to work out an agreement with prosecuting attorneys for a more lenient sentence.
To enter a not guilty plea
You may wish to do this if you refuse to admit guilt and want the chance to fight the charges. You and your legal counsel don’t believe prosecuting attorneys have enough evidence for a conviction. You don’t want to say they are guilty of something you don’t believe you are. There is a big risk in entering a not guilty plea, but for some, it is a risk worth taking.