Pleading "No Contest" Does NOT Keep Your Record Clean
I’m not sure where that myth came from, but pleading “no contest” in court doesn’t mean that your record will stay clean.
Hello. My name is Andrew Flusche. I’m a Virginia traffic and misdemeanor attorney. Does no contest mean the charge won’t be on your record? Unfortunately, no.
I’m not sure where that myth comes from, but I’ve heard it from several people. They’ll say, “Well, I pled no contest to shoplifting or DUI or reckless driving, so it shouldn’t be on my record.” That’s just not true.
No contest is simply a plea. It basically means that you’re not fighting the evidence that the Commonwealth has. You’re saying yes, you can prove your case. Well, that’s essentially very close to a guilty plea. It’s not saying “yes, I did it,” but it’s saying “yes, you can prove it,” so that doesn’t mean the case is going to be dismissed or not show up on your record. It simply means that you’re not fighting the case. The judge could very well have convicted you of the original charge.
Now, no contest can be a useful tool and a useful plea to enter, and in some cases I advise clients to do that, but simply having entered a no contest plea does not mean that the case will not be on your record.