What is a Plea?

A plea is a declaration by a Defendant that he or she is guilty, not guilty or desires to resolve the case without contesting the charges but also without pleading guilty (called a nolo contendre plea).  A negotiated plea agreement is used when the prosecutor and Defendant’s attorney are able to work out a proposed resolution to a case through either a guilty or nolo plea and present the agreement for consideration by the judge presiding over the case.  The judge does not have to accept the plea, but will likely accept the agreement unless it is unreasonable.  A non-negotiated plea is used when the prosecutor and Defendant’s attorney are not able to come to an agreement for resolution of the case, but when the Defendant desires to put himself or herself at the mercy of the judge and let the judge enter the sentence in the case.  Usually the judge will afford the Defendant the opportunity to withdraw a non-negotiated plea and proceed to trial if the Defendant does not accept the sentence ordered by the judge.

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