In the state of New York, a not guilty plea means that a person accused of a crime or violation is claiming to not have committed that infraction. A plea is entered during an initial arraignment before a judge or at a later time as specified by the court.
There are three choices of plea in the New York court system. These pleas are guilty, not guilty and no contest. One may also be able to argue that they are incompetent to stand trial or that they are not guilty by reason of insanity. The latter are difficult to prove and require the assistance of an attorney.
Pleading not guilty in most instances gives an accused person time to gather evidence and mount a defense against their charges. Unfortunately, a not guilty plea also extends the length of time one will spend in the “system.” When a not guilty plea is entered during arraignment, further court dates are set.
Depending on the charges, a not guilty plea may result in a pre-trial, depositions or other court appearances. This plea may result in a settlement offer on behalf of prosecutors, but it could also mean a lengthy court battle. It is generally recommended that a person accused of a criminal act consult with an attorney before making any statements, including a plea, in court before a judge.
A person may be found “not guilty” by a court of law. This does not technically mean that the person did not commit the crime they were accused of. Instead, it means that the prosecution did not prove its case beyond the required legal standard.