A recent San Mateo felony robbery case shows that no one is immune from the law. A 57-year-old San Francisco police sergeant has officially pled no contest to two counts of armed robbery after being charged in November of 2021.
Davin Cole was charged with felony robbery with an enhancement for being armed after he robbed a Rite Aid pharmacy in San Mateo, just seven miles from Redwood City. According to prosecutors, Cole entered the pharmacy and handed an employee a note stating he had a gun and demanding Norco opioid pills. Cole did not draw the weapon because the pharmacy employees gave him 11 bottles of the drugs he demanded. One employee also called 911.
When responding officers arrived at the scene, Cole resisted arrest and attempted to run. He only complied when an officer warned him that he would use his Taser if necessary. Upon arrest, the officers confirmed Cole had the bottles of Norco, an unregistered handgun, and the robbery note still on his person. He was charged with two counts of robbery because two employees were in the store. He was also charged with one count of misdemeanor resisting arrest.
Before his arrest, Cole’s role in the San Francisco police department involved working with people with addictions. According to those close to Cole, he had kept his own addiction to opioids a secret since he first developed it eleven years previously. He initially began consuming opioids with a prescription after he was bitten by a police dog while working as a K-9 officer in 2010. This addiction apparently drove him to perform the robbery.
As of September, Cole officially pled no contest to the charges. He will be sentenced on November 14th and faces up to four years in prison.
Anyone who is charged with a crime in California has the option to plead not guilty, guilty, or no contest. However, many people are less familiar with no-contest pleas and their impact. With his 27 years of experience on the police force, Cole likely decided that a no-contest plea may benefit him in the long run. We’ve broken down what you need to know about how different pleadings affect theft and robbery cases and what it means if you plead no contest to your own theft charges.
How Different Pleas Affect Theft Charge Cases
After you’re charged with a crime in California, you will attend an arraignment where the judge will explain your specific charges and the penalties involved. After your arraignment, you will respond to the charges by making your plea. There are three pleas: guilty, not guilty, and no contest. Here’s how they work:
Pleading Not Guilty to Theft Charges
When you plead not guilty, you state that you didn’t commit the crime you’re accused of. This means your case will go to trial. You’re denying responsibility for the charges, so the legal system must determine whether you’re innocent or guilty. Your case will be argued before a jury of your peers, who will decide on your ultimate verdict.
Pleading not guilty is the only way to contest charges. If you are not found guilty, you’re acquitted of the charges and cannot be tried again for the same crime. However, if you are found guilty despite your plea, you will be convicted and face criminal penalties.
Pleading Guilty to Theft Charges
Pleading guilty means you accept full responsibility for the crimes with which you’ve been charged. You accept all fault and agree to skip your right to a trial. You move immediately to sentencing instead.
In some cases, pleading guilty can be the best response to criminal charges. Suppose there is incontrovertible evidence that you committed a crime, such as clear video footage or your own confession. In that case, you and your legal counsel may decide it’s not worth going to trial. In that case, pleading guilty and accepting all consequences may be the best way to achieve a lighter sentence. Pleading guilty demonstrates that you understand your actions were wrong and are remorseful, which may cause the judge to issue a more lenient sentence.
Pleading No Contest to Theft Charges
Pleading no contest is very similar to pleading guilty. It means that you disagree with the charges but will not argue them in court. Just like guilty pleas, pleading no contest waives your right to a trial. The court will assign penalties as if you had been found guilty.
However, there is one significant difference between the two: a no-contest plea is not an admission or acceptance of guilt. It just means you don’t think going to trial is worthwhile. That means no contest pleas are not held against you if you’re sued in civil court for the same actions that led to your criminal charges.
That is a critical difference for Davin Cole and other people charged with violent crimes like armed robbery. Guilty pleas are often used in civil lawsuits to demonstrate that the defendant has already admitted fault. A no-contest plea doesn’t work the same way. Should the victims of Cole’s robbery attempt to sue him for damages, they won’t be able to use his conviction as evidence he’s admitted guilt.
Get Expert Legal Counsel Regarding Theft Charges
If you’ve been charged with theft or robbery, one of the first things you’ll need to do is file a plea. That’s why it’s critical to hire a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will help you decide the best way to approach your case and how to plead before your arraignment.
At the Law Offices of M. Gabriela Guraiib, we are dedicated to helping our Redwood City clients achieve justice. We will advocate on your behalf regardless of how you plead. Schedule your consultation today to learn how we will fight your criminal charges and pursue the best possible outcome from your case.