"QUESTION: What does it mean to plead 'no contest' or 'nolo contendere' rather than guilty?
ANSWER: A no contest or nolo contendere plea in essence says to the court, 'I don't choose to contest the charges against me.' This type of plea, often part of a plea bargain, results in a criminal conviction the same as does a guilty plea. And a no contest plea will show up on a criminal record. However, if the defendant is later sued in civil court by the victim, the no contest plea itself sometimes cannot be used in the civil case as an admission of guilt and can be introduced in civil cases as evidence against the defendant." -From, "The Criminal Law Handbook" By: Bergman & Barrett