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What does it mean to "enter a plea"?

Entering A Plea

Jeffrey K. Rubenstein (Criminal Defense Attorney) gives expert video advice on: Can I change my plea?; How can I plead insanity? and more...

What does it mean to "enter a plea"?

When charges are issued against an individual, they can enter a plea. Generally a not guilty plea is entered, but they may change their plea at any time and plead guilty, or sometimes no contest.

What types of pleas can I enter at my arraignment?

At your arraignment when the charges are read against you, you can enter a variety of pleas. You can either enter a not guilty plea and you're allowed to go along the process and go to trial. Or at some point in the process, due usually to plea bargaining, you will enter a plea. And guilty is a plea. Not guilty is a plea. No contest is a plea. Those are the only 3 plea options available.

Can I change my plea?

Yes, you can change your plea. As a matter of fact, when somebody first pleads guilty at arraignment, and we then work out a plea bargaining, during the process we call that a change of plea, and somebody changes their plea from a not guilty plea to either a guilty or no contest plea.

What is a "plea bargain"?

Plea bargaining is the process that takes place between defense lawyers, prosecutors, and judges to make sure that the criminal justice system operates efficiently. Let me give you an example: In the courthouse of your major city there are 10 courtrooms but there are 100 cases. The justice system can only do trials for 10 cases - maybe less, because they need a couple of courtrooms just to run the things that go through. Because every case can't go to trial, The People offer plea bargains - they offer a deal of less than the full punishment in order for the person to plead guilty at an early phase.