Admission of guilt can be an advantage in legal situations. A criminal defendant who shows remorse and contrition for a crime may receive a lesser penalty than a defendant who hides guilt or refuses to see the fault in their actions. Thus, sometimes it is better to plead guilty than to try to prove innocence. A third option is to plead "no contest." More on this later.
When You Should Consider Pleading Guilty
If you are a guilty of a crime or offense, you may approach a trial as a way of negotiating the least burdensome punishment possible. Thus, deciding whether or not you should plead guilty may hinge on whether you think you can poke enough holes in the prosecution's argument in court to avoid the most extreme punishment or whether you will get a better deal from pleading guilty. For example, if you were responsible for an accident that took someone's life, the prosecution might push for vehicular manslaughter in court, but if you plead guilty, the prosecuting attorney might make a bargain that in return for your admission, they will only charge you with negligent driving. The question, then, is whether you have hope of a more favorable outcome by going to trial or by taking a deal.
When You Should Plead No Contest
If you plead guilty in a criminal case, you might end up with a lesser legal consequence than you otherwise might end up with, but you leave yourself open to a civil suit. Returning to the car accident example from above, if you plead guilty, the family of the person who died in the accident you caused can use your legal admission of guilt to their advantage when bringing a civil case against you. When you plead no contest, you will most likely still face legal consequences of the crime you committed, but legally you never admitted guilt. Thus, if people seek to bring a civil case against you, their job is harder. in other words, pleading no contest gives you a tactical advantage in situations where you might be facing legal and civil trials.
Just because you are guilty of a crime does not mean that you should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. When lawyers represent guilty clients, their job is to protect the client from getting steamrolled by the legal system. You should, therefore, trust your criminal defense lawyer's suggestions for when to make a plea and what sort of a plea to make.