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What Happens If I Plead No Contest to Domestic Violence?

Posted on April 20, 2020 in Domestic Violence

If the police arrest you for domestic violence in Arizona, one of the most important legal processes involved in your case will be the arraignment. This is the initial hearing, in which the courts will state the official charges brought against you. At your arraignment, you will also have the opportunity to enter how you plead to the charges against you. The three main pleas you may enter are guilty, not guilty and no contest. Understanding what each could mean for your case is critical as a defendant.

What Does No Contest Mean?

No contest is the common term for nolo contendere, a Latin phrase that translates to, “I do not wish to contest.” No contest means you are not admitting guilt or innocence in relation to the charges against you. Submitting a no-contest plea will have almost the same effect as entering a guilty plea, without you admitting guilt. The judge presiding over your domestic violence case in Arizona will take a no-contest plea the same as a guilty plea. He or she will give you a sentence based on the facts of the case. The main difference is that you never admitted you committed the crime of domestic violence.

What Are the Consequences of Pleading No Contest?

Pleading no contest to domestic violence charges will lead to a criminal conviction. Pleading no contest in a domestic violence case means that while you are not admitting guilt, you are choosing not to contest the charges with a not-guilty plea. The courts will therefore convict you of the crime without a trial and issue your sentence. Defendants generally do not plead no contest to avoid conviction or penalties for the crime in question. No contest will still lead to a conviction. Instead, the main advantage of pleading no contest is avoiding liability during a civil claim.

In a domestic violence dispute, if the alleged victim has bodily injuries, property damage or emotional distress, he or she could bring a civil claim against the perpetrator. A civil claim pursues financial compensation that will reimburse the victim for damages the defendant caused. Pleading no contest means the plaintiff in a related civil case cannot use an admission of liability as evidence of guilt. State law may allow a plaintiff to introduce a no-contest plea as evidence in some situations, however.

After you plead no contest to domestic violence charges in Arizona, the courts will convict you of the crime and it will go on your permanent record. It may be a misdemeanor or felony conviction depending on the facts of your case. The sentence for domestic violence in Arizona can be 30 days to 15 years or longer behind bars, as well as hefty fines, probation and/or mandatory counseling. A no-contest plea will also lead to the loss of your firearms, and could lead to the loss of custody of your children.

Is a No-Contest Plea Right for You?

Always consult with a Phoenix domestic violence lawyer in Arizona before entering a plea of any kind during a domestic violence case. Entering a plea is a big deal. It can drastically change your future. Discuss your particular case with a criminal defense lawyer in Arizona before making your decision. You might not realize the implications of making one type of plea or the benefits of making another until you have spoken to a defense attorney.

A lawyer can work closely with you to help you understand the elements of your particular domestic violence case. Your lawyer can then recommend the type of plea that is best for your specific situation. If this is a no-contest plea, your lawyer can walk you through how it may affect your case. A lawyer might also be able to work out a more satisfactory plea deal with the courts. A plea deal could lead to lesser charges against you and/or reduced penalties for a guilty or no-contest plea. A lawyer in your area can review all the consequences of a no-contest plea in more detail with you.