Difference Between Guilty and No Contest

Guilty vs No Contest

There are three possible ways of responding to charges of a crime. A person can plead guilty, plead not guilty, or he can enter a no contest plea. Many people are confused to hear of no contest plea as they can easily understand the difference between accepting and not accepting the charges framed against them. If a person does not exercise any of the three options, the state authorities enter a plea of not guilty to provide him an opportunity to defend him against the charges framed by the prosecutors. This article takes a closer look at the pleas of guilty and no contest to find out the differences between them.


When a person enters a plea of guilty when charged with a crime, he essentially accepts all charges and declares that he does not wish to defend himself against these charges. A guilty plea makes it very easy for the court, as it can move ahead without any proceedings and deliberate or ponder about punishment to be meted out to the individual for the crime he is charged with. The only thing that the court wants to ensure is that you have entered the plea voluntarily, and there is no undue pressure on you to accept the charges. The court also wants to make sure that there is some reason behind accepting the charges. This is done to ascertain that you are speaking the truth and not lying to the court.

There have been many instances in the past where parents have pleaded guilty to protect their kids from being charged for a crime. The thing to understand is that you cannot appeal against any conviction once you plead guilty to a crime. As such, it is better fight rather than plead guilty to a charge if you feel there is a way to save your skin. Talking to an attorney is always a good idea before accepting a guilty plea. Even making a confession in front of the police officials is considered as good as accepting a guilty plea. Therefore, think a thousand times before accepting a guilty plea as you can get through without a conviction if you decide to contest the charges and plead not guilty.

No contest

No contest comes from Latin Nolo contendere and literally means I do not wish to contest. When a person enters the plea of no contest, he is not agreeing to the crime he is being charged with. It just means that he has decided not to fight against the charge for one or the other reason. It means that the individual still believes he is innocent, but he doesn’t want to fight it out in the court.

There are instances when a person does not want his family to go through a trial. There may be hundreds of other reasons for not fighting the charges, but the court treats the individual as guilty though he still does not accept the charges. The court believes you committed the crime and proceeds with the punishment as the attorney does not get a chance to prove your guilt in the court and also does not get an answer to the question of whether or not you committed the crime. No contest plea is suitable for celebrities and people who feel uncomfortable in facing the court.

What is the difference between Guilty and No Contest?

• No contest is neither acceptance nor repudiation of charges framed while guilty means full acceptance of charges.

• The effects of no contest are technically the same as a guilty plea.

• No contest tells the court that the defendant does not wish to fight because of this or the other reason.

• No contest means the accused does not face the court and has to be ready for punishment. This suits celebrities who tend to avoid proceedings of courts.

• No contest plea cannot be used as an evidence against the defendant later in a civil court.