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Pennslvania Criminal Procedure Archives

Pennsylvania Criminal Procedure: What is a Nolo Contendre Plea?


If a defendant, opts not to go to trial, he can either plead guilty or nolo contendre. A nolo contendre plea is also called a plea of "no contest." With a guilty plea, a defendant admits that he committed the offenses to which he is pleading guilty. With a nolo contendre plea, the defendant does not admit to the conduct forming the basis of the offenses to which he is pleading no contest. Rather, he acknowledges that if he went to trial, the Commonwealth would have sufficient evidence to prove that he committed the offenses, assuming that the finder of fact (a judge or jury) believed this evidence. When it comes to sentencing and post-sentencing rights, pleas of guilty and nolo contendre have the exact same effect.

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