- Alford plea
In the law of the
United States, an "Alford" plea is a pleain 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 lawapplies. 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.
* 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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