Nolo contendere is the Latin legal term for a no contest plea. It is one of the options given to a person who is accused in a court of law. When an individual is accused in a court of law of a crime, he or she has the right to respond to these charges. He or she may respond with a guilty plea, a no guilty plea, or a no contest plea. A no contest plea is a response of an individual who does not wish to admit to the charges brought against him or her, but neither does he or she wish to contest the charges.
A no contest plea, although it does not mean guilt, has the same effect or consequences of a guilty plea. When a person submits a no contest plea, he or she possibly believes that it would be unsuccessful proving his or her innocence in a court trial but maintains his or her innocence. However, there are many other various reasons as to why a person would plead no contest.
Since a no contest plea carries with it a sentencing, the defendant may be offered a plea bargain since he does not contest the charges. A plea bargain is an offer made by the prosecution that may lessen the punishment or the severity of the sentencing. Otherwise, the judge passes a sentence on the defendant just as he or she would on a defendant who has been convicted or found guilty of the crime.