Understanding Your Plea Options in Texas

You’ve been arrested, and now you’re standing in court before a judge. He or she looks at you and asks how you plead. What do you say?

Of course, you’ll have your lawyer by your side (or at least you should!), and he or she will advise you on how to respond. In Texas and courts all over the United States, defendants have three potential responses—or pleas—and this is one of the most important decisions you make when it comes to your case. You can choose to plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest.

And while these three responses may seem to have obvious explanations, each one is unique when it comes to the processes that take place following your statement. Read on for an in-depth look at each plea.

Not Guilty

When you enter a not guilty plea, you are informing the Court that you deny any guilt and/or that you have a good defense for your case. When you plead not guilty, the Court is required to hold a trial for your case and a prosecutor must prove your guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.” 

From there, you have the option to have a trial by jury or a trial before a judge. Your lawyer can advise you on the best route to take here.


If you plead guilty, you are essentially telling the Court that you have no defense or excuse for committing the illegal act you were accused of. Choosing to plead guilty is a very serious decision that can have life changing consequences. By choosing this option, not only are you admitting that the State has proof that you violated the law, but the plea may also be used against you in a separate civil suit.

No Contest

Known in the legal world by the Latin phrase “nolo contendere,” pleading no contest means that you are not admitting guilt, but you are also not challenging the State’s charge against you. And while the Court will usually find you guilty, the difference between a guilty plea and a plea of nolo contendere means that the decision cannot be held against you in a separate civil suit.

If you have been arrested, call the Law Offices of Charles A. Banker, III at (713) 227-4100 to schedule a free consultation. We can advise you on which plea makes the most sense for your case and provide you with the professional defense you need.

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The Law Offices of Charles A. Banker, III

Our firm’s founder, Charles A. Banker III, has been a solo criminal defense practitioner with offices in Houston and McAllen, TX for over 30 years. He understands what it means to work independently in today’s hyperconnected world, but he also knows that sometimes you need to lean on others.

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