What Happens if You Refuse to Enter a Plea in Your Las Vegas Criminal Case

Posted by Neil Shouse | Mar 29, 2016 | 0 Comments

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If you've been charged with a crime in Las Vegas, you will appear before a judge at some point and be asked how you plead to the charges against you. Typically, you have one of three options: not guilty, guilty, or no contest. But what if you choose none of the above and refuse to enter any plea at all?

It is not unheard of for criminal defendants to refuse to enter a plea when asked by a judge to do so. A recent example is the Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who refused to enter a plea in federal court to criminal charges that he that he led an armed standoff against federal agents in 2014.

After you've been arrested and charged with a Las Vegas criminal offense, your first court appearance will usually be at your arraignment (also called "initial arraignment"). Depending on the case the arraignment will always either be in a Nevada justice court or a municipal court.

At the beginning of an arraignment, the prosecution presents the defendant with a criminal "complaint" listing the crimes he/she allegedly committed. The defendant then enters a plea of guilty or not guilty. Almost always the defendant pleads "not guilty" even if he/she later takes a plea bargain.

If the defendant refuses to enter a plea, the judge will likely enter a “not guilty” plea on their behalf. If the defendant indicates that he or she does not want to enter a plea because they want to speak with an attorney and have not had the opportunity to do so, the judge can delay the arraignment and reschedule to another date to give the defendant the chance to consult with counsel.

You should never enter a plea without first speaking with an attorney if at all possible. If you have been arrested in Las Vegas and are facing criminal charges, you need an attorney immediately. Please give one of our skilled and experienced Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys a call as soon as possible to discuss your case.



About the Author

Neil Shouse

A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.


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