If you’re facing a DUI charge and plead “no contest”, it’s the same as a guilty plea. The court will find you guilty. But, the “no contest” doesn’t admit wrongdoing. It means that you aren’t going to fight the charges. The “no contest” plea can keep a DUI conviction from being used as evidence against you in a civil lawsuit filed by the victims.
If you don’t know what to do when facing a DUI charge, it’s time to seek help from a Portland DUI defense attorney.
“No Contest” Plea Benefits
Here are some of the benefits of the “no plea” contest:
- avoiding a stressful trial
- preventing potentially upsetting events from being public information.
- Besides the benefits, there are several not so pleasant things such as the following:
- you’re giving up your right to defend against the charge,
- accepting the fines, prison time, and license suspension that follow,
- having the DUI on your criminal background
- the collateral outcomes of a conviction
“No Contest” Plea in a DUI Case
This plea will tell the court that you will not fight the charge of driving under the influence and that you are prepared to be punished for DUI without contesting the charge at a trial.
No contest pleas are often called a nolo contendere (I don’t want to contend) plea.
A no-contest plea isn’t the same as pleading not guilty because you give up your right to defend yourself. It’s also different from pleading guilty because you aren’t admitting that you committed a crime.
Pleading no contest takes your case straight to a sentencing phase. This is very similar to a guilty plea. The court will punish you as if you had been convicted or had pled guilty to the DUI. Your punishment may include a fine, prison time, or DUI probation and suspension of your driving license. Pleading no contest still leads to a conviction that will find its place on your criminal record.
Why Should I Plead No Contest?
If you aren’t confident that you’d be acquitted in a trial, or if you want to avoid the conviction being used against you in a civil case and if you want to avoid stressful trials.
One of the most common reasons why people plead no contest to a DUI charge is because they’re concerned about a potential upcoming civil lawsuit. DUI victims often file a lawsuit against the drunk driver who caused their injuries and damages.
The victim will wait for the criminal case to end before they file their lawsuit. This will allow them to use a jury’s guilty verdict as proof that you were driving under the influence. The victim will also use your guilty plea as evidence that you were responsible for the crash.
In both cases, the victim’s personal injury lawsuit is supported. By pleading no contest, you can deny the evidence that could be used against you in court. This would make the victim prove their case by themselves. So the “no contest” plea prevents them from using your criminal case against you.
Why Would You Want to Avoid Pleading No Contest?
As mentioned above, it means you will not defend against the charge. The “no contest” plea will subject you to the penalties of a conviction and it’s very similar to pleading guilty.
If you refuse to admit fault, can affect how the judge will punish you. Judges sometimes will reduce the sentence if the defendant pleads guilty. The judge may see your admitting fault as remorse. If you plead “no contest” it means that you aren’t admitting your wrongdoing.
If the DUI charge is a felony, pleading “no contest” loses the most important benefits. The victim can still use the plea as evidence against you in a civil lawsuit.
Can You Plea “No Contest” in Oregon?
The state of Oregon doesn’t allow plea bargaining in DUI cases like it’s allowed in Washington or California, for example.
ORS 813.170 Plea agreement is prohibited. ORS 135.405 to 135.445, a person charged with a DUI offense shall not be allowed to plead “guilty” or “no contest” to any other offense in exchange for a dismissal of the offense charged. No district attorney or city attorney shall make any motion and no judge shall enter any order in derogation of this section.
FBD Law attorneys are here to give you answers to any DUI-related question you have. Let us help you with your case.