Pleading Guilty While Saying You're Innocent

A defendant who claims to be innocent but doesn’t want to risk going to trial can sometimes take what has become known as an Alford plea, named after the Supreme Court’s decision in North Carolina v. Alford. (400 U.S. 25 (1970).)

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A defendant who claims to be innocent but doesn't want to risk going to trial can sometimes take what has become known as an Alford plea, named after the Supreme Court's decision in North Carolina v. Alford. (400 U.S. 25 (1970).) Although the Supreme Court in Alford held that a plea of guilty by someone who claims to be innocent doesn't violate the Constitution, it also held that states could make their own laws regarding such pleas.

Alford vs. "No Contest"

Alford pleas, like guilty and nolo contendere or "no contest" pleas, result in conviction. Some states allow classic Alford pleas, where defendants plead guilty while claiming to be innocent. Others require a defendant who claims innocence to plead no contest. Others still don't allow Alford pleas at all: In those states, if you assert innocence, you must plead not guilty.

Consult an Attorney

It's very important to seek the advice of an attorney before accepting any type of plea deal. Laws regarding the available pleas, their requirements, and their implications vary from place to place. An attorney familiar with the laws of your jurisdiction will be able to help assess your options.

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You should not send any sensitive or confidential information through this site. Any information sent through this site does not create an attorney-client relationship and may not be treated as privileged or confidential. The lawyer or law firm you are contacting is not required to, and may choose not to, accept you as a client. The Internet is not necessarily secure and emails sent through this site could be intercepted or read by third parties.

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