Guilty vs. No Contest in Las Vegas

You have a few options when you are charged with a crime in Nevada.

You can go to trial and fight the charges. Or you can skip the trial and enter a plea deal.

Two common plea options are pleading guilty and pleading no contest.

What do they mean, and how are they different?

Guilty vs. No Contest in Las Vegas

What It Means to Plead Guilty

Pleading guilty means you admit you committed the crime you are charged with.

You are saying, “yes, I did it,” to the court. This means you give up your right to a trial. There will be no trial if you plead guilty.

Instead, the judge will sentence you based on your guilty plea. Pleading guilty also gives you a criminal conviction on your record.

What It Means to Plead No Contest

Pleading no contest, or “nolo contendere,” means you accept the punishments for the crime but do not admit guilt.

You are not saying you did it or that you’re innocent. The court will treat this as a guilty plea regarding your sentence.

But pleading no contest means you don’t get a formal admission of guilt on your record.

The Main Differences

Here are the key differences between these two plea options:

  • Guilty is admitting you committed the crime. No contest means you don’t admit or deny it.

  • Pleading guilty can be used against you later in civil lawsuits about the crime. No contest pleas usually cannot.

  • Both kinds of pleas will still result in a criminal conviction and sentences.

When You Might Choose Each Plea

Sometimes, pleading guilty makes sense, like if you want to take responsibility or get a lighter sentence through a plea deal.

No contest could be better if you don’t recall the events clearly or want to avoid liability in related civil cases.

An experienced lawyer can advise which option fits your case best.

The important thing is to understand what each plea means in Nevada’s courts before making your decision.

Finish Line


The main difference between pleading guilty and no contest is that guilty is openly admitting you committed the crime, while no contest means accepting the penalties but not admitting guilt.

Both pleas will still end in a criminal conviction and sentences. Before entering any plea, talk to a lawyer to understand how it could impact your case and future.

Pleading guilty or no contest has significant consequences because it waives your right to trial. Think carefully about the best strategic plea for your situation.

The key is being fully informed on what each plea option means in the eyes of Nevada law.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the punishment for pleading guilty or no contest?

The judge determines sentencing for both pleas based on the charges and your criminal history. Pleas avoid the unpredictability of a trial outcome.

Do I need a lawyer if I want to plead guilty or no contest?

Consulting an experienced criminal defense lawyer is vital to protect your rights and get the best deal.

Can I take back a guilty or no-contest plea after entering it?

You can file a motion to withdraw your plea before sentencing, but this is rarely granted. Pleas are generally binding.

Is a no-contest plea viewed as guilt by immigration officials?

No contest pleas carry the same weight as a guilty plea for immigration purposes in most cases.

Will a no-contest plea prevent the victim from suing me in civil court?

While it cannot be used as evidence of liability, victims can still potentially file civil lawsuits regardless of the plea entered.

What factors should I weigh when choosing a plea?

You should consider potential sentences, impact on a criminal record, and risk of related civil lawsuits, among other factors.

Does pleading guilty or no contest mean I have a criminal record?

Both types of pleas will result in a criminal conviction that will stay on your record.



  • Arraignment: Arraignment is a court proceeding at which a criminal defendant is formally advised of the charges against them and is asked to plea.
  • Criminal Records: These are official documents detailing a person’s criminal history. The information is assembled from various sources, including local, state, and federal courts and probation and correctional departments.
  • Extortion: The act of obtaining something, especially money, through force or threats.
  • Gang Crimes: Crimes committed by a group of individuals for the benefit of the group or organization.
  • Homicide: The act of one human killing another. Homicides can be divided into many overlapping types, including murder, manslaughter, justifiable homicide, killing in war, euthanasia, and capital punishment, depending on the circumstances of the death.
  • Misdemeanor: A criminal offense that is less serious than a felony and more serious than an infraction. Misdemeanors are generally punishable by a fine and incarceration in a local county jail, unlike infractions, which are punishable by a fine only.
  • Murder: The unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another. It is considered a more severe crime than homicide.
  • Solicitation: The act of asking, commanding, urging, or advising another person to commit a crime.
  • Sealing Criminal Records: A process by which the legal records of criminal convictions are sealed or erased in the eyes of the law.
  • Sex Crimes: These are illegal acts that are sexual, committed without the victim’s consent, or, in some cases, against a person incapable of giving consent due to age or mental incapacity.
  • Shoplifting: Stealing goods from a store while pretending to be a customer.
  • Traffic Tickets: A notice issued by a law enforcement official to a motorist or other road user, indicating that the user has violated traffic laws.
  • Warrant: A writ issued by a judge or magistrate that authorizes law enforcement to conduct a search, seizure, or arrest or to carry out a judgment.
More Resources for You

Additional Resources for You

Offsite Resources

Offsite Resources You May Find Helpful

  1. Legal Resources – Understanding the No Contest Plea: This article delves into the intricacies of a no contest plea and its implications.

  2. The Balance Careers’ Overview of a Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Job: This article can provide insight into the role of a defense lawyer in the plea process.

  3. The Marshall Project’s Reporting on Immigration and Criminal Justice: This resource provides a collection of articles about the intersection of immigration and criminal justice.


A Special Message from Our Lead Attorney


Molly Rosenblum, Esq

Thank you for reading these legal resources explaining the difference between pleading guilty and no contest to criminal charges in Nevada.

I hope you understand what each plea means and how they can impact your case.

If you or someone you care about is facing criminal allegations, please call my firm today at (702) 433-2889 to set up a free case evaluation.

My team of experienced Nevada defense lawyers is here to listen to the details of your situation, explain your legal options, and provide honest advice regarding the best path forward.

Don’t go through this alone – we are here to support you as your advocates.

Call now to take advantage of your free consultation.

I look forward to assisting you.

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