I am asked this all the time, so here’s the answer:
A plea of no contest is the same as a plea of guilty except that it cannot be used against the defendant in a civil case, based on the same facts, if the plea is to a misdemeanor. If one pleads no contest to a felony it is admissible against the defendant in a civil action.
A plea of not guilty is a denial of all charges and requires the prosecutor to present evidence to a judge or jury in order to obtain a conviction.
Consult a local attorney before entering any plea in a criminal matter.