The Alford plea is a form of “alternative plea”, meaning that it does not correspond to traditional pleas of either guilty or not guilty. It is premised on the defendant’s acceptance of a plea bargain agreement while continuing to assert innocence. Typically, this involves a defendant’s acknowledgement that evidence of sufficient weight exists to result in a probable guilty verdict. The Alford plea derives from the 1970 Supreme Court case of North Carolina v. Alford, in which a defendant “concludes his interests require a guilty plea and the record strongly indicates guilt”, having received benefit of advice from a competent attorney. Alford please are accepted in virtually all state jurisdictions. While the civilian federal courts recognize Alford pleas, U.S. military courts do not.
For those who might want to read about this and other alternative pleas in more detail, please visit my earlier blog on the topic.