History of Nolo Contendere

History of Nolo Contendere
The American justice system is based on English common law. Nolo contendere, too, comes from this English legal foundation. This plea of “no contest” essentially worked the same way then that it does now: a defendant has the right to accept punishment without admitting guilt. Who knows what benefits it offered to a defendant in medieval England, but those were harsher times and it may have been easier sometimes to take the punishment rather than argue with those in charge.

One of the most famous nolo contendere pleas was made by Vice President Spiro Agnew in 1973. He pled no contest to charges of falsifying tax returns. That plea allowed the courts to move the matter through quickly before it became a circus in the media, which was already in an uproar over Watergate.

A plea of nolo contendere is allowed in most states, but not all.

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