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What is an Alford plea?

On Behalf of | Sep 25, 2023 | Criminal Defense

If someone pleads not guilty to a criminal charge, the case will proceed to court. Yet, this rarely happens as most cases are settled by plea deal. Estimates reckon less than 3% of state cases make it to court in Texas and 89.5% of federal cases are settled by plea deals.

Yet what if you don’t want to plead guilty because you are innocent?

One option is to agree to plead guilty while maintaining that you are innocent. It is called an Alford plea.

When might you consider one?

Let’s say that someone framed you for a crime, but they did it so well that you and your legal team can see no way of beating the charge at present. You are certain that the only outcome of a trial is going to be a conviction.

That does not mean you won’t ever find a way to show the framing for what it was, just that it’s impossible right now. You could enter an Alford plea, saying you are innocent but will plead guilty to spare the hassle and expense of a trial in exchange for more lenient sentencing.

Of course, there often are ways to beat a charge or cast enough doubt on the prosecution’s case that a court has no choice but to set you free, even if they think you probably did commit the crime. But if that is not possible right now, it is good to know of all the legal options that exist.

With time, you may be able to show that when you said you were innocent, you were telling the truth.