Nolo contendere

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Definition

Meaning "no contest," this phrase translates from the Latin as "I do not wish to contend." 

Overview

In a criminal proceeding, a defendant may enter a plea of nolo contendere, in which the defendant does not accept or deny responsibility for the charges but agrees to accept punishment.

The plea differs from a guilty plea because a "no contest" plea cannot be used against the defendant in another cause of action

Some states do not allow defendants to ask the court's permission to plead nolo contendere. In federal cases, the Rules of Federal Criminal Procedure allow such pleas, with the court's permission.

See also:  Alford plea

Further Reading

For more on nolo contendre, see this Cornell Law Review article, this Cornell Law Review article, and this University of Florida Law Review article

[Last updated in July of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]