When a person has charges brought up against him or her, he or she is notified immediately of such charges and must respond by entering a plea. This plea can exist as an admittance of guilt, admittance of no guilt, or of no contest. The person is presented before the court as a defendant, and is asked to enter a plea into the court records. A person who does not admit guilt enters a not guilty plea.
By entering a plea, the defendant provides the basis of a legal proceeding. In the event that a person does not enter a plea or does not respond to the accusations brought against him or her, the court will automatically provide a not guilty plea on his or her behalf. Once a not guilty plea has been entered, legal proceedings begin and a date is set for a court trial.
When a person provides a not guilty plea, he or she is claiming to not have done the offenses he or she is accused of. There are various reasons as to why a person enters a not guilty plea. A person may enter a not guilty plea because he or she is truly innocent of the charges, and wishes for a jury trial to evaluate the case. A not guilty plea automatically leads to a court trial since a guilty plea will only lead to a sentencing date. A person may also enter a not guilty plea despite being guilty in order to protest the charges brought against him or her, or to avoid the consequences of being guilty.