She’s just the latest in a string of starlets facing trouble with the law after driving under the influence. Now Mischa Barton, a young actress who performed on the popular teen soap “The O.C.,” has pleaded no contest to driving under the influence (DUI) after a December pullover. Barton, who is 22 years old, attracted the attention of an officer after straddling lanes and failing to use her turn signal. Baron pleaded no contest to both DUI and driving without a license. Barton will now begin three years of probation for her crime.
Contrary to popular belief, a “no contest” plea is not the same as a guilty plea. Rather, a no contest plea means that the defendant in a case neither contests nor claims guilt for the charges at hand. Generally, no contest pleas are associated with a plea bargain. It is safe to assume that Barton’s high-powered attorneys brokered a plea deal with the court, obtaining probation instead of revoking her license. Though a no contest plea can have its advantages, it could backfire if a DUI case is brought to civil court, since it is often interpreted as a guilty plea by civil juries.
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