My 17 year old son was arrested and charged with possession of paraphernalia, what would be the outcome if he pleads no contest?

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My 17 year old son was arrested and charged with possession of paraphernalia, what would be the outcome if he pleads no contest?

Can it be erased from is record as he will be applying for college aid?

Asked on June 13, 2011 under Criminal Law, Illinois

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

First of all, a plea of no contest is the same as a guilty plea. The only difference is that if a civil suit is later filed the no contest plea cannot be used against you in that suit. 

In a case such as you describe, if your son is a first-time offender he may be offered an alternative sentencing program known as "diversion" (or IL's equivalent). With diversion he would enter a plea of guilty. The court would then put him on probation and if all terms of his probation were successfully met, the plea would be withdrawn and his case dismissed. He would be left with a clean criminal record.

However, since a criminal offense is involved he should consider having legal representation.  An experienced attorney might be able to get the charge dismissed on a technicality or win an acquittal at trial.  Also, since diversion is only allowed for a first offense this means that if he should ever find himself in legal trouble in the future it will not be available to him again.  Therefore if he gets a lawyer who is able to obtain a dismissal of/acquittal on the charge, he will be eligible for diversion at that time.

At this point, you should at least consult with a criminal attorney as to this matter.


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