This criminal law article by a Rhode Island criminal defense attorney explains what exactly a nolo contedere plea means and how it is different from a guilty plea. This is very important information for criminal defendants in Rhode Island. Many people spell nolo contendere as nolo contendre. The proper pronunciation of nolo contendere is /ˌnōlō kənˈtendərē/. (nolo contendere pronunciation) What is nolo contendere? Literally in Latin it means, ‘I do not wish to contend.’ Wikipedia. Rhode Island criminal law articles
Is a nolo contendere plea to a criminal charge a conviction in RI?
There is a lot of confusion in Rhode Island about whether a nolo plea constitutes a conviction under RI law. A nolo contendere plea means a Rhode Island criminal defendant is not contesting the criminal charges. When an accused agrees to a nolo contendere plea in RI, the alleged perpetrator is throwing in the towel and not fighting the charges but is also admitting to the charges.
A Nolo Contendere plea to a criminal charge is a conviction in Rhode Island if:
- There is a fine
- There is a suspended sentence
- There is a sentence for a period of incarceration (jail)
- there is a guilty plea
A nolo contendere plea to a criminal charge is not a conviction in Rhode Island if there is:
- Contribution to victims indemnity fund
- Court costs
- loss of license
- There is probation (without a suspended sentence)
What is the primary difference between a guilty plea to a criminal charge and a nolo contendere plea in Rhode Island and Providence Plantations?
There is a big difference between guilty and a nolo plea! Pursuant to Rhode Island criminal law, a guilty plea always constitutes a conviction. A plea of nolo may not be a conviction. A conviction could effect a persons employment status or future plans in a significantly worse way then a nolo plea. A nolo plea may not be a criminal conviction in RI. Nolo contendere only constitutes a conviction under the laws of the Ocean State if there is a sentence of confinement (such as the ACI or home confinement), a suspended sentence or a fine imposed.
What is a Conviction in RI?
If an accused accepts a nolo contendere plea bargain with a sentence of probation as well as a contribution to the violent crimes indemnity fund or court costs, it will not be a conviction under Rhode Island law! A plea of nolo contendere with a sentence of a filing and a contribution to the violent crimes indemnity fund (vcif) will not constitute a conviction under Rhode Island law.
Any nolo contendere plea to a criminal charge with a fine is a conviction under RI law. Therefore, it is important that the defendant gets either no fine or a contribution to the victims fund or court costs rather then a fine. All misdemeanor plea agreements in Rhode lsland (RI) should be nolo contendere with court costs or a contribution towards the victims indemnity fund rather then guilty pleas!
Many misdemeanor defendants reach plea agreements at their arraignment in Rhode Island. These defendants are often making a mistake because they do not know what they are doing and do not have the advice of a RI criminal attorney.
Authoritative Citations and Authorities about nolo contendere and misspelled as: nolo contendre:
“In Lafler v. Cooper and Missouri v. Frye, the Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of criminal defendants who were deprived of a favorable plea offer because of their lawyers’ professional lapses. In dissent, Justice Scalia complained that “[t]he ordinary criminal process has become too long, too expensive, and unpredictable,” because of the Court’s criminal procedure jurisprudence; that plea bargaining is “the alternative in which…defendants have sought relief,” and that the two new decisions on the Sixth Amendment right to effective representation in plea bargaining would add to the burden on the criminal process.” The Right to Plea Bargain With Competent Counsel After Cooper and Frye: Is the Supreme Court Making the Ordinary Criminal Process ‘Too Long, Too Expensive, and Unpredictable…In Pursuit of Perfect Justice’? Bruce A. Green Fordham University School of Law June 10, 2013 Duquesne University Law Review, Vol. 51, No. 735, 2013 Fordham Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 22770
The scope of this legal article does not address the following: nolo contendere traffic ticket.
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