What does Plea mean?
Defendants, who have been accused of a crime, face a variety of options. They can make a conditional plea, a guilty plea to all charges, a plea bargain, or a no-contest plea (which is not an admission of guilt but is treated as if you did plead guilty). The defendant may also plead not guilty and request a jury trial or agree to have their case heard by a judge.
The plea is the defendant's decision alone, although they should seek legal counsel to make sure they understand the best decision for their case. Under some conditions the court may decide the defendant is not competent to make a plea or stand trial (i.e. they are mentally insane) so the state will decide they cannot be convicted.
If the defendant does not make a plea decision the case will be taken to trial anyway. If the defendant pleads no contest or not guilty most attorneys will recommend a jury trial because a jury is most likely to acquit. In a criminal case the plea is made at the arraignment. If you have been convicted of a serious crime you will have to appear in person in court, although your attorney can go to court with you.