Most people in California know that when accused of a crime, they have different plea options. You probably have heard of the standard guilty or not guilty pleas. One other common option is nolo contendere, which California Legislative Information explains is basically a guilty plea with some exceptions. Before you use this plea, it is essential that you know what it means and how it will affect your case.

A nolo contendere plea means that the court still sees you as guilty and you are essentially saying you are guilty. The punishment is also the same as if you would plead guilty. The only difference is that you are saying based on the facts in the case, you accept you would be found guilty.

In addition, when you use nolo contendere as a plea, you do not have the same admission of guilt. You are not saying that you actually committed the crime. Therefore, even though the court will treat it as a plea of guilt, it cannot be used as a guilty plea is any civil case.

This can come in handy if you have a concern about a future civil lawsuit concerning the same crime. Typically, in a civil lawsuit, the other side can use a guilty plea against you to strengthen their case. This often leads to you having to pay damages in the civil case. With a nolo contendere plea, they cannot do this, so you will not have that against you in any civil case. This information is for education and is not legal advice.