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FAQ - Criminal Charges or Complaints in Court

Arizona Civil Legal Needs Community Survey

Civil legal organizations in Arizona are seeking your input to increase their ability to meet the civil legal needs of Arizona's lower income residents. Please complete this survey to assist in improving civil legal services in Arizona.

Encuesta de Necesidades Legales Civiles de Arizona

Las organizaciones legales civiles en Arizona buscan su opinión para aumentar su capacidad de satisfacer las necesidades legales civiles de los residentes de bajos ingresos de Arizona. Por favor complete esta encuesta para ayudar a mejorar los servicios legales civiles en Arizona.

What is the procedure for entering a plea to a criminal charge?

There are three possible pleas to a criminal charge:

•    Plea of Not Guilty– The person charged, the defendant, denies guilt and the State must prove the criminal charges against the defendant. The State is represented by the city or office of the county prosecutor.
•    Plea of Guilty– The person charged, the defendant, admits that they committed the acts charged in the complaint, that the acts are prohibited by law and that the defendant has no legal defense for such acts.
•    Plea of No Contest– This plea, also known as nolo contendere, means the person charged, the defendant, is not admitting guilt and not denying it. The defendant is saying that they do not wish to contest the charges brought by the state. Upon a plea of no contest, the judicial officer may find the defendant guilty and enter a judgment of guilt.