How Do You Plead? Guilty, Not Guilty, or No Contest?

When you’ve been arrested for a crime, you need to be strategic about which plea you choose. In the Georgia justice system, you generally have three choices for your plea: guilty, not guilty, or no contest. Read on to learn about each of these pleas and what they entail.


By pleading guilty, you admit that you did, in fact, commit the crime you have been accused of committing. When you plead guilty, you waive your right to a trial by jury. You will be convicted and sentenced to the punishment determined to be appropriate by the judge and the law.

Why would you plead guilty? There are a few reasons. In some cases, the person knows they are blameworthy, knows there is ample evidence against them, and wants to avoid the cost, time, and frustration of litigating in a trial. In other cases, prosecutors sometimes offer plea deals. For example, they may offer you a shorter sentence or another form of leniency in exchange for pleading guilty. 

Not Guilty

When you plead not guilty, you assert that you did not commit the crime. In order to prove your innocence, you will have the right to a trial by an impartial jury of your peers. A lawyer for the prosecution (the state of Georgia) will present the evidence that investigators have found against you, and your lawyer will present a defense. It is up to the jury to decide if they believe, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you committed the crime. The jury must make this decision unanimously

No Contest 

This type of plea is also referred to as “nolo contendere.” They typically occur in traffic cases such as speeding tickets. The consequences to pleading no contest are the same as if you had plead guilty. However, with a no contest plea, you are not admitting guilt. 

If you are involved in a civil case and plead no contest in a related criminal case, it will not be used as an admission of liability in the civil case. Another benefit of a no contest plea is that it prevents points from being added to your Georgia Motor Vehicle Record.

In Georgia, you can only plead no contest once every 5 years. Judges are not required to accept no contest pleas. 

Who can help me with my case?

If you have been charged with a crime, or believe you are going to be, you should contact an experienced criminal lawyer immediately. At Pak and McRae Law Firm, we have the knowledge and experience to help you. Give us a call at (678) 632-5298 to get started.

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Pak & McRae Law

At Pak and McRae Law, LLC we provide straightforward, sincere criminal defense for local, state, and federal matters. Our team includes a former Assistant District Attorney, so we understand how prosecutors approach cases and will use those insights to benefit your case.

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