Nolo Contendere: Pleading No Contest in a Court of Law


Nolo contendere is a Latin legal term that simply stands for “I do not wish to contend.”  Nolo contendere is also referred to as a plea of “no contest” and is often referred to as “pleading nolo.”

In criminal court trials, Nolo contendere is a legal plea made by the defendant who does not admit to committing a criminal charge, nor do they dispute the charge. Entering such a please is considered to be an alternative to pleading to be specifically guilty or not guilty to the criminal charge.

A no-contest plea, which is technically not a guilty plea, is often offered as a part of a plea bargain deal from the prosecutor.

It is not always an option to enter such a plea. The state law in which the crime was committed will determine whether the defendant may plead no contest in criminal court cases, so consult your state and local laws to confirm.

Private detectives may find themselves involved in court cases, supporting either the defendant or the plaintiff, where such a plea is necessary based on the evidence. It is a good idea to be familiar with the legal term, when it makes sense and when it doesn’t.

More Information

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For more legal definitions, visit our Glossary of Legal and Investigation Terms.


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