When you face criminal charges, the court will ask you for your plea. Most people know you have the option to plead guilty or not guilty, but there are other options in most cases. Technically, this is called pleading nolo contendere, according to NoloContendere.org. This type of plea means you are admitting guilt for the charges and you agree the court may punish you for committing the crime. Even though the plea will end up with the same results as just pleading guilty, it is quite different than a guilty plea.
The court will only allow a guilty plea if it believes you are being completely honest about the fact you committed the crime. If you show reservations to facts presented or there is any other concern by the court, a guilty plea is often not allowed. If you do not want to go trial and you openly admit your guilt but the court will not accept your guilty plea, then you can plead no contest.
Sometimes this plea is encouraged because it allows you to explain your situation to the judge. This can give you a chance to help the judge understand more about what really happened, which could result in a lighter sentence than what you would receive with a guilty plea. You essentially get to present your own defense.
It is important to note that you are admitting you are guilty but that a no contest admission cannot be used in civil cases against you later. This is another reason why you may consider using this plea. This information is only intended to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.