What does a "plea" mean?

Once a defendant is given notice of the charges filed, the defendant must enter a plea of "guilty" (admitting to the offense), "nolo contendere" ("no contest") (not admitting guilt, but not contesting the charges filed, or "not guilty" (requiring a trial by judge or jury). A plea of "guilty" or "nolo contendere" ("no contest") will result in a finding of guilt by the court, along with a penalty. A plea of "not guilty" will result in the case being set for a trial by a judge or jury.

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1. What does a "plea" mean?
2. Do I have to come to court?
3. How long do I have to appear?
4. What if the court is closed on my appearance day?
5. Can I get an extension of my time to appear?
6. What if I just pay the fine?
7. What if I cannot pay the fine?