Alford doctrine


Al·​ford doctrine ˈal-fərd- How to pronounce Alford doctrine (audio)
: a legal doctrine under which a criminal defendant who does not admit guilt is allowed to plead guilty as part of a plea bargain provided the plea is made voluntarily and with knowledge of the consequences
The Alford doctrine provides that a court may accept a knowing and voluntary plea of guilty from a defendant, even though the defendant maintains his innocence, provided the trial judge determines that there is a factual basis for the plea.Crofoot v. United States, 761 F. 2d 661 (Fed. Cir. 1985)
see also alford plea

Word History


after North Carolina vs. Alford, U.S. Supreme Court case (1970) that resulted in the doctrine

First Known Use

1994, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of Alford doctrine was in 1994

Love words?

You must — there are over 200,000 words in our free online dictionary, but you are looking for one that’s only in the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary.

Start your free trial today and get unlimited access to America's largest dictionary, with:

  • More than 250,000 words that aren't in our free dictionary
  • Expanded definitions, etymologies, and usage notes
  • Advanced search features
  • Ad free!

Dictionary Entries Near Alford doctrine

Cite this Entry

“Alford doctrine.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Jul. 2024.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!