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What Happens If I Plead "No Contest" to Domestic Violence Charges?

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“Nolo contendere” – more commonly referred to as “no contest” – literally means “I do not wish to contest.” A “no contest” plea leads to a California criminal conviction, which is essentially similar to pleading “guilty.”

But when you plead “no contest,” however, you are not technically admitting guilt. Rather, you are allowing the court to decide your punishment.

Advantages of Pleading “No Contest”

In California, the main benefit of entering a “contest plea” instead of a guilty plea in a misdemeanor case, that plea cannot be used against you as an admission of guilt if a civil case occurs out of the same conduct from which the criminal prosecution was founded. On the other hand, a guilty plea establishes civil liability.

Should You Plead “No Contest” to Domestic Violence Charges?

Other than the reason mentioned above, pleading “no contest” – especially in a domestic violence crime – means you are allowing the judge to find a “factual basis” for your plea and find you guilty. Once that occurs, the judge will determine your sentence, possibly resulting in jail time.

In addition, “no contest” to a domestic violence offense can have serious repercussions in child custody disputes in state court. For example, joint physical or legal custody is presumed to be detrimental to the child if the court finds that a parent committed domestic violence against the other parent, the child, or the child’s sibling within the past five years.

If you are facing domestic violence charges in California, contact our Bakersfield criminal defense lawyer at Campbell Whitten and request a free consultation today.