Alford plea

In the law of the United States, an "Alford" plea is a plea in criminal court in which 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; however, in many states, such as Massachusetts, a plea which "admits sufficient facts" more typically results in the case being continued without a finding and later dismissed.Fact|date=September 2008

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 this plea is not permitted in some states.

The Alford plea originated in the United States Supreme Court case of "North Carolina v. Alford" (1970), [http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?navby=case&court=US&vol=400&invol=25 400 US 25] . Under subsequent case law, an "Alford" plea generally has the same effect as a plea of guilty with respect to sentencing, and use of the conviction as an aggravating factor if the defendant is later convicted of another offense.

Further reading

* cite journal | last = Bibas | first = Stephanos | authorlink = | coauthors = | year = 2003 | month = | title = Harmonizing Substantive Criminal Law Values and Criminal Procedure: The Case of "Alford" and Nolo Contendere Pleas | journal = Cornell Law Review | volume = 88 | issue = 6 | pages = | doi = 10.2139/ssrn.348681 | url = http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/plea/four/nolo.html | accessdate = | quote =
* cite journal | last = Shipley | first = Curtis J. | authorlink = | coauthors = | year = 1987 | month = | title = The "Alford" Plea: A Necessary But Unpredictable Tool for the Criminal Defendant | journal = Iowa Law Review | volume = 72 | issue = | pages = 1063 | issn = 0021-0552 | url = | quote =
* cite journal | last = Ward | first = Bryan H. | authorlink = | coauthors = | year = 2003 | month = | title = A Plea Best Not Taken: Why Criminal Defendants Should Avoid the "Alford" Plea | journal = Missouri Law Review | volume = 68 | issue = | pages = 913 | issn = 0026-6604 | url = | quote =


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Alford plea — n. A guilty plea entered as part of a plea bargain by a criminal defendant who denies committing the crime or who does not actually admit his guilt. In federal courts, such plea may be accepted as long as there is evidence that the defendant is… …   Law dictionary

  • Alford plea — /al feuhrd/ Law. a pleading of guilty in a plea bargain in which the defendant maintains his or her innocence. [fr. the 1970 case North Carolina v. (Henry C.) Alford] * * * Alford plea /öl fərd plē/ (US law) noun A plea by a defendant in court to …   Useful english dictionary

  • Alford plea — Name derived from North Carolina v. Alford, 400 U.S. 25, 91 S.Ct. 160, 27 L.Ed.2d 162 (1970), in which Supreme Court held that a guilty plea which represented a voluntary and intelligent choice among alternatives available to defendant,… …   Black's law dictionary

  • Alford plea — Name derived from North Carolina v. Alford, 400 U.S. 25, 91 S.Ct. 160, 27 L.Ed.2d 162 (1970), in which Supreme Court held that a guilty plea which represented a voluntary and intelligent choice among alternatives available to defendant,… …   Black's law dictionary

  • Alford plea — /al feuhrd/ Law. a pleading of guilty in a plea bargain in which the defendant maintains his or her innocence. [fr. the 1970 case North Carolina v. (Henry C.) Alford] * * * …   Universalium

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  • plea — In common law pleading (now obsolete with adoption of Rules of Civil Procedure) a pleading; any one in the series of pleadings. More particularly, the first pleading on the part of the defendant. In the strictest sense, the answer which the… …   Black's law dictionary

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