What does a plea in a DUI trial mean?
There are basically three types of pleas in DUI cases. The first plea is taken on a date called an “arraignment” date, usually your first court appearance. At the arraignment, the court will ask how you plead. Should you plead guilty, then the court will proceed to make a finding of guilty and assess fines, court costs, and the appropriate jail sentence. Should you plead not guilty, the court will assign you a trial date. You will appear in court later, where you may change your plea from not guilty to guilty, or you may plead nolo, which means “nolo contendere” or no contest. In any of these pleas: a plea of not guilty, a plea of guilty, or a plea of no contest, the judge must still make a finding. It is only in a plea of not guilty, however, that a trial will ensue. At the end of the trial, the judge makes a finding of guilty or not guilty at the Municipal or Justice Court level. If there is a no contest (nolo contendere) or guilty plea made, then the court proceeds to make a finding