A no contest plea, while not technically a guilty plea, has the same immediate effect as a guilty plea, and is often offered as a part of a plea bargain.
In many jurisdictions a plea of Nolo contendere is not a right, and carries various restrictions on its use. In the United States, state law determines whether, and under what circumstances a defendant may plead no contest. Several other common law countries, however, prohibit the plea altogether.
In Australia, a plea of Nolo contendere by a defendant in a criminal trial is not permitted. The defendant must enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. Where a defendant refuses to enter a plea, the court will record a plea of not guilty.
One of the most famous Nolo contendere pleas in U.S. history was that of Vice President Spiro T. Agnew, who was accused of crimes committed while he was the Governor of Maryland. Mr. Agnew pleaded Nolo contendere in a Maryland court to the charges. Eventually, Agnew was forced to resign as Vice President.
Under the Federal Rules of Evidence, and most state rules which parallel them, Nolo contendere pleas may not be used to defeat the hearsay prohibition if offered as an "Admission of [a] Party-Opponent". Assuming the appropriate gravity of the charge, and all other things being equal, a guilty plea to the same charge would cause the reverse effect: An opponent at trial could introduce the plea, over a hearsay objection, as evidence to establish a certain fact.
In some jurisdictions, such as the U.S. state of Texas, the right to appeal the results of a plea bargain taken from a plea of Nolo contendere is highly restricted. In Texas, defendants who have entered a plea of Nolo contendere may only appeal the judgment of the court if the appeal is based on written pretrial motions ruled upon by the court.