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Can an Alford plea be used in a domestic violence case?

When someone is charged with domestic violence, he or she may feel as though the charges were brought unfairly. The person accused of domestic violence may state that he or she is innocent of one or more of the elements of the charge.

In Colorado, there are several different types of pleas that may be used in criminal proceedings. Some of these pleas do have significant consequences. Here are the pleas allowed:

-- Standard plea: This is a guilty plea by the defendant. He or she is admitting guilt.

-- No contest plea: This is also known as a Nolo Contendere plea. While there is no distinction between a guilty plea and a no contest plea in terms of sentencing or a conviction on his or her criminal record, this type of plea cannot be used later in civil court proceedings.

-- Alford plea: A defendant who uses an Alford plea will have a conviction on his or her record; however, this allows the defendant to protest that he or she is innocent of one or more of the elements of the charge. The plea will result in a conviction and sentencing for the crime.

There are some issues that may arise with an Alford plea in a domestic violence case. If the court accepts an Alford plea, he or she may minimize the seriousness of the charge or not accept responsibility. In addition, he or she could have problems completing treatment because in the defendant's mind, he or she did not admit to committing the crime.

Those who are charged with domestic violence can benefit from speaking with an experienced criminal defense attorney. A conviction on this charge can seriously affect many areas of a defendant's life, so it's important to have an attorney's advice and guidance as the case moves forward.

Source: Colorado Bar Association, "Colorado Domestic Violence Benchbook" accessed Feb. 06, 2015

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