What is an an Alford plea?

02/07/2007 - Category:Criminal - Pleas - State: PA #445

Full Question:

What is an an Alford plea?

Answer:

In the law of the United States, an Alford plea is a plea in criminal court. In this plea, the defendant does not admit the act and asserts innocence, but admits that sufficient evidence exists with which the prosecution could likely convince a judge or jury to find the defendant guilty. Upon receiving an Alford plea from a defendant, the court may immediately pronounce the defendant guilty and impose sentence as if the defendant had otherwise been convicted of the crime.

The Alford plea differs slightly from the nolo contendere ("no contest") plea. An Alford plea is simply a form of a guilty plea, and, as with other guilty pleas, the judge must see there is some factual basis for the plea. Therefore, a defendant's prior conviction via an Alford plea can be considered in future trials; and it will count as a "strike" if a three strikes law applies. On the other hand, a nolo contendere plea is in no way an admission of guilt, and it cannot be introduced in future trials as evidence of incorrigibility. However, courts do not have to accept a plea of nolo contendere, and usually do not, except in certain nonviolent cases.



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02/07/2007 - Category: Pleas - State: PA #445

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