Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Nolo Contendere Definition:

Latin: I will not defend.

Related Terms: Nolle Prosequi

Used primarily in criminal proceedings whereby the defendant declines to refute the evidence of the prosecution.

In some jurisdictions, this response by the defendant has same effect as a plea of guilty.

In Qureshi, Justice Gee of the United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit wrote:

"Nolo contendere means, 'I do not contest it.' It is, to be sure, a tacit confession of guilt, but solely for the purpose of the case in which it is entered.

"A plea of guilty, to the contrary, is an explicit and general admission."

In addition, as to the consequence of such as plea entered on the record, consider the opinion of Justice Woodrough of the Circuit Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit in Dillon v United States:

"Pleas of nolo contendere were confessions of guilt for the purpose of the case, and sentence of both imprisonment and fine could be imposed upon such plea."

Further, more succintly:

"For all practical purposes, the plea of nolo contendere is one of guilt."


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