Type of pleas
Your decision concerning which plea to enter is very important. You should read the following explanation of the three types of pleas and think carefully before making your decision. If you plead guilty or nolo contendere in open court, you should be prepared to pay the fine. For a plea of "not guilty", a court date must be scheduled in person with the court on or before the 10-day date on your citation.
- Plea of Guilty: By a plea of guilty, you admit that you committed the act charged and that the act is prohibited by law, and that you have no defense or excuse for your act. A guilty plea will be considered a conviction and recorded as such on your criminal or driving record. You may be subject to a State surcharge. Before entering your plea of guilty, you should understand that a plea of guilty may be used against you in a civil suit.
- Plea of Nolo Contendere (No Contest): A plea of nolo contendere, also known as no contest, means you do not wish to contest the State's charge against you. Nolo Contendere has the same legal effect as a guilty plea. A plea of nolo contendere cannot be used against you in a subsequent civil suit for damages.
- Plea of Not Guilty: A plea of not guilty means you are informing the Court that you deny guilt or that you have a defense in your case and that the State must prove its charges against you. If you plead "not guilty" your case will be scheduled for the next available trial docket at your initial court appearance. You will need to decide whether you want a bench trial (trial by Judge) or a trial by jury (6 members of your peers) You are not required to retain an attorney to represent you. You may represent yourself. As in all criminal trials, the State is required to prove the guilt of the defendant "beyond a reasonable doubt".