Encyclopedia > Plea of nolo contendere

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Plea of nolo contendere

Literally, Nolo Contendere means "I don't contest it." This plea is often entered by a criminal defendant when he faces a realistic prospect of conviction, does not wish to undergo a trial, and yet is not willing to admit that he committed the offense.

Generally, a defendant pleading nolo contendere, or "nolo," will be found guilty of the offense by the court, as he has agreed not to contest the charge. He will not, however, be made to allocute to the charges, and his plea (unlike a guilty plea) may not be used against him to establish negligence per se, malice, or even that he actually did the acts which resulted in the conviction, in later civil proceedings related to the same set of facts as the criminal prosecution.

In some states, such as Texas, the right to appeal the results of a plea bargain taken from a plea of nolo contendere is highly restricted. In Texas, a defendant who has entered a plea of nolo contendere may only appeal the judgment of the court if the appeal is based on written pretrial motions ruled upon by the court or with the trial judge's permission. In addition, upcoming changes to Texas law will require that the trial judge certify that the defendant has a right to appeal.

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