January 16, 2019
To Nolo, or Not to Nolo?
Some of you might have heard the expression “pleading nolo” in the context of a traffic or criminal case. Some of you might have never hear of such an expression. In the legal context, “nolo” is short for “nolo contendere” which is Latin for “no contest”. Simply put, it means someone charged with a crime or traffic offense is telling the Court that that person is NOT admitting guilt but will accept the punishment as if that person was in fact guilty.
Why plead “Nolo?” Pleading “nolo” can be helpful in several situations. In Georgia, being found guilty of any number of traffic offenses can put “points” on your license. Different traffic offenses carry different amounts of “points”, depending on the severity of the offense. Depending on the age of the driver, a certain amount of “points” on a Georgia driver’s license within a certain period of time will result in that individuals’ driver’s license being suspended. Additionally, any traffic offense that adds “points” to your license can be discovered by your car insurance company, which can result in your insurance rates increasing. However, by pleading “nolo” to these offenses, you will avoid points being assessed to your license, thus preventing insurance rates from increasing in most circumstances.
Being found guilty of certain offenses can also result in your license being suspended. For example, if someone is charged with driving on a suspended license, a guilty plea to that charge will often result in a further suspension of that individual’s license. By pleading “nolo” a person charged with driving on a suspended license can avoid further suspension.
When should I plead “Nolo?” The answer to the question “when should I plead nolo?” depends on a variety of factors and you should discuss that with an experienced attorney. Under Georgia law, one can only use a nolo plea once every five years. Also, a nolo plea is discretionary, meaning that a judge does not have to accept the nolo plea. Finally, your lawyer may be able to get your charges dismissed, or amended to a different charge that would not require you to spend your nolo plea.