Both are special pleas that defendants or accused persons can use in court.
The Alford plea is technically a defense as it is neither a full admission of guilt or innocence. It is, however, a guilty plea in a criminal court where the defendant does not admit to the crime and asserts his or her innocence. The Alford plea is only utilized in felony cases.
When does the Alford plea apply?
The Alford plea is an interesting plea because a defendant is actually allowing himself to be convicted while still claiming and maintaining his innocence. The only time an Alford plea should be considered is when there is an extremely high probability that the defendant will be convicted at trial and after serious conversation and involvement by a Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer. The Alford plea allows the defendant to obtain a lower sentence than if the case actually goes to trial.
The most common offenses in which an Alford plea is used by defendants are Sex Crimes in Georgia. This is because sexual offenses tend to be highly stigmatized and seriously life-changing. As I've written about recently, certain crimes carry more weight and judgment than others. Some people view taking an Alford plea as a way to avoid admitting to others that they committed the crime.
Is a judge required to accept an Alford plea?
No. Judges are not required to accept Alford pleas. In fact, many judges stand by the belief that suspects should instead admit their guilt, especially in felony cases.
If a judge decides to accept an Alford plea, a judge may ask the defendant if he or she considers it to be in his or her best interest to plead guilty. A judge may alternatively ask if the defendant understands that upon his or her Alford plea that he or she will be treated as guilty regardless of the lack of admission of guilt.
Speaking with a Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney before making a decision regarding your case and subsequently your freedom is of utmost importance. These posts are meant to inform - not necessarily advise. No one should take an Alford plea without seeking specific legal help with their case.
If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime in Georgia, contact us today. We are here to help.