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Actor Pleads No Contest to DUI Charge, But What Does That Mean?

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Aug 19, 2019 | 0 Comments

Actor Michael Madsen ended his case of driving under the influence (DUI) by pleading no contest to the charges. Here's what a “no contest” plea means.

Actor Charged with DUI, Pleads No Contest

Back in March, actor Michael Madsen – best known for enforcer roles in Quentin Tarantino movies like Reservoir Dogs – crashed his car into a telephone pole in Malibu, California. He was not hurt, but a breathalyzer showed his blood alcohol content (BAC) was over the legal limit. He was arrested and charged with DUI – his second offense in the past 10 years.

Madsen has since pleaded no contest to the DUI charges. On August 17, he was sentenced to four days in jail and five years of probation.

Not Guilty, Guilty, and No Contest Pleas

Contrary to popular belief, people who have been charged with a crime in Pennsylvania have more than two options for pleading their case. Under 234 Pa. Code Rule 590, in addition to pleading guilty or not guilty, you can also plead no contest.

Pleading Not Guilty

When you plead not guilty to a criminal charge, you express an intent to defend yourself against the allegations. You are telling the court that the prosecutor has it wrong, that you are innocent, and that you intend to show it by challenging the case against you.

Pleading not guilty should be the standard response because, unlike other pleas, it can be changed later on if circumstances change. If you refuse to issue a plea, the court will issue a plea of not guilty for you.

Pleading Guilty

Pleading guilty to a criminal charge is an admission that you committed the crime you are being accused of committing. It shortcuts the rest of your case, including your trial, and jumps straight to sentencing.

No Contest Pleas

Pleading no contest, or “nolo contendere,” is very similar to a guilty plea, but with some small nuances to it.

A nolo contendere plea tells the court that you are not going to fight the charges. This works like a guilty plea, but without the admission of guilt. Like a guilty plea, pleading no contest sends your case straight to sentencing, where a judge will issue sanctions based on the charges that were presented.

However, because you do not admit your guilt, your case cannot be used against you in a later civil case or an administrative proceeding.

DUI Defense Lawyer in Philadelphia: Joseph D. Lento

In this particular case, Michael Madsen could have decided to plead no contest rather than guilty in order to protect himself from civil liability in the crash. For example, he may have been facing thousands of dollars in fines for destroying a telephone pole. If he pleaded guilty to DUI, his plea would have been used as proof that he was responsible for the wreck and should have to pay. By pleading no contest, he ends the criminal case without giving evidence that the crash was something other than a simple accident.

If you have been accused of DUI in Philadelphia, call criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento at (215) 535-5353 or contact him online.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience fighting for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, as well as New Jersey. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being.

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Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the Lento Law Firm today! Criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

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