If you have ever been arrested for a crime and taken before a judge, you know that you are attending an arraignment hearing. An arraignment hearing is where you (and your attorney if you have retained one) enter a plea. We have all seen in the movies where the defendant stands up before the Court and pleads ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’ for the crime committed. In real life, everyone needs to plea not guilty at this time because if you pled guilty, a judge would sentence you immediately and you may not know what the judge’s sentence will be. At a later time, after the evidence is reviewed, you may choose to change your plea to nolo contendere (no contest) or guilty. For the purposes of this article, we will discuss what happens when you plead guilty or nolo contendere. Additionally, we will explain how a nolle prosequi could affect your status.
1) Pleading Guilty
This option is fairly obvious. When pleading guilty to the crime you are being charged, you are admitting that you committed the crime. Often times, a guilty plea comes about when the prosecution offers a plea deal for a better sentence if you plead guilty to the charges. Remember from the above paragraph you do not plead guilty at arraignment and you should have the evidence reviewed prior to changing your plea to guilty.