Rule 3.971 Pleas of Admission or No Contest

(A) General. A respondent may make a plea of admission or of no contest to the original allegations in the petition. The court has discretion to allow a respondent to enter a plea of admission or a plea of no contest to an amended petition. The plea may be taken at any time after the filing of the petition, provided that the petitioner and the attorney for the child have been notified of a plea offer to an amended petition and have been given the opportunity to object before the plea is accepted.

(B) Advice of Rights and Possible Disposition. Before accepting a plea of admission or plea of no contest, the court must advise the respondent on the record or in a writing that is made a part of the file:

(1) of the allegations in the petition;

(2) of the right to an attorney, if respondent is without an attorney;

(3) that, if the court accepts the plea, the respondent will give up the rights to

(a) trial by a judge or trial by a jury,

(b) have the petitioner prove the allegations in the petition by a preponderance of the evidence,

(c) have witnesses against the respondent appear and testify under oath at the trial,

(d) cross-examine witnesses, and

(e) have the court subpoena any witnesses the respondent believes could give testimony in the respondent's favor;

(4) of the consequences of the plea, including that the plea can later be used as evidence in a proceeding to terminate parental rights if the respondent is a parent.

(C) Voluntary, Accurate Plea.

(1) Voluntary Plea. The court shall not accept a plea of admission or of no contest without satisfying itself that the plea is knowingly, understandingly, and voluntarily made.

(2) Accurate Plea. The court shall not accept a plea of admission or of no contest without establishing support for a finding that one or more of the statutory grounds alleged in the petition are true, preferably by questioning the respondent unless the offer is to plead no contest. If the plea is no contest, the court shall not question the respondent, but, by some other means, shall obtain support for a finding that one or more of the statutory grounds alleged in the petition are true. The court shall state why a plea of no contest is appropriate.