A plea, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is a statement in which a person who has been accused of a crime says in court that he or she is guilty or not guilty of the crime.¹ An accused individual is able to enter a plea agreement expressing his or her admission of guilt to all or certain charges.¹ The Trial Chamber is not involved in the negotiation of the plea agreement.¹
What is a plea?¹
- Guilty: a plea by a defendant admitting that he committed the crime charged. A guilty plea is a complete admission of guilt to the charge and a waiver of all rights.
- Not Guilty: a plea where the defendant denies the charges against him. The burden, therefore, remains on the city, state, or federal government to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
- Nolo Contendere (no contest): a plea entered by defendant that does not admit guilt, but that subjects the defendant to punishment, while allowing the defendant to deny the alleged facts in other proceedings. A plea of no contest is equivalent to a plea of guilty.
- Failure to enter a plea: if the defendant refuses to enter a plea or does not appear, the court must enter a plea of not guilty.