What is Nolo Contendere?
For those who are facing criminal or minor traffic offenses in Maryland, there are a lot of terms and legal phrases to learn and understand. Just a minor misapprehension of terminology can make a big difference when it comes to points on your license, insurance premiums, and even your own freedom. Let The Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, P.A. help you with your criminal or traffic offenses.
Pleading Options in Maryland
Under Maryland Court Rule 4-242, a person charged may plead one of the following:
- Not guilty
- Nolo contendere (only with court permission)
- Not criminally responsible by reason of insanity
Everyone pretty much knows what guilty and not guilty mean, but what about this one? In Latin, it means “I will not contest.” It’s essentially a hybrid between a guilty and not guilty plea. You first request that the court permit you to enter this plea. Then, the court must afford you the opportunity to be examined before the judge on the terms of the charges. Finally, you must be advised in full of your rights and the consequences of a nolo contendere plea. Sometimes a court will not permit such a plea. In these cases, you would have to enter a new plea.
Consequences of Pleading Nolo Contendere
Maryland Court Rules state that you must stipulate to the facts of what happened, be advised of possible outcomes and consequences (including consequences to those who are not citizens), and you will be advised of the sentence.
When is Nolo Contendere Used?
Most commonly it is used in traffic law cases where the actions were clear, and the violation is not really in question, but the defendant may have no record and be unlikely to re-commit the offense. Therefore, there may be little to no benefit to justice by tarnishing the person’s driving record or hurting their insurance rating. Thus, the court can approve a nolo plea, allowing the sentence to be entered (usually the same fine as what would normally be paid if guilty), yet there is no guilty plea entered.
Although a nolo plea may not result in a technical conviction, you will still have to likely pay a fine or submit to the same punishment as a guilty plea. On top of this, if you re-offend or commit a new criminal or traffic infraction in the future, your past charge, including your nolo contendere plea, may be brought up as part of the court’s consideration in your new sentencing. Therefore, there may be good times to use this strategy to avoid an unnecessary conviction. But if you are truly innocent of the charge and have a strong defense, it is usually wiser to attempt to beat the charge and keep your record completely clean.
How a Lawyer Can Help
When dealing with local prosecutors and municipal authorities, it can be difficult to navigate the court system. You could end up attending numerous appearances in court, wasting a lot of precious time, and being faced with repeated continuances, mostly because you’ve filled out a form wrong or not followed a court rule carefully enough. Worse yet, you could miss a scheduled hearing and face bigger problems. For the vast majority of people, it just makes sense to let a trained attorney deal with the problem from start to finish. In a lot of cases, it even results in the ticket or minor charge being dismissed.
So, give The Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, P.A. a call today. Our Baltimore attorneys are eager to assist you throughout each step of your case.