What is the Alford Plea?
Sharon Fortner explains what the Alford plea is in this video. In rare cases, a defendant who is being tried for a criminal offense may use the Alford plea. The Alford plea is slightly controversial, as it is not technically a declaration of innocence or an admission of guilt. When a defendant utilizes the Alford plea, they do not plead guilty to the crime that they are being accused of. The defendant continues to assert that, to the best of their knowledge, they are innocent of the crimes that they are being charged with. However, the defendant admits that, based on the available evidence, the charge will most likely be proven by the prosecution. After pleading in this manner, a defendant will be convicted of the crimes that they are accused of. Subsequently, the defendant will receive a criminal sentence that they must complete. There are a number of circumstances that may cause an individual to employ the Alford plea. For example, if a defendant has no memory of the offense, but the evidence indicates that the defendant is guilty, then they may utilize this defense. Intoxication, trauma, and amnesia are all conditions that may cause an individual to maintain no memory of the event. Therefore, an individual may believe that he/she is innocent, despite incriminating evidence presented by the prosecution. In some instances, an individual may not be able to admit to him/herself that he/she is guilty of the accused crimes. In cases such as this, the Alford plea may be used. Pleading in this manner may allow an individual to obtain a less severe criminal sentence, than if the defendant maintains their innocence throughout the entire trial and is ultimately convicted.