When people talk about the criminal justice system, usually the conversation revolves around three outcomes in criminal cases: taking a plea deal, being convicted at trial, or being acquitted at trial. However, there is one surprisingly common outcome that many people do not talk about, known as an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal (also called an ACOD or ACD). But what is an ACOD, and why might it matter to you?
Explaining the ACOD
Put simply, an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal is when a judge chooses to adjourn a criminal case, with the agreement of the prosecutor. Provided the defendant does not get rearrested or violate any terms of their release during the period of adjournment, which usually lasts no more than six months (or one year in cases involving family offenses), the case will automatically be dismissed. In effect, the case simply goes away, with no further need for future court dates.
The Benefits of an ACOD
One of the most important benefits of an ACOD is that it is not considered a criminal conviction, in the same way a plea deal is. This means there is no criminal record of the charge, and you do not need to report an ACOD to employers or to anyone else who might ask if you’ve been convicted of a crime. Provided you avoid getting arrested or any other issues, you can simply live your life and the charges against you will go away.
The Downsides of an ACOD
Unfortunately, an ACOD is not perfect. Judges can institute a number of conditions on your ACOD, which you must fulfill to get its benefits. Depending on the nature of your charges, this could include: making restitution to victims, attending mediation or other forms of alternative dispute resolution, attending rehab, or performing community service. If you fail to fulfill these conditions or get arrested again during the period of the ACOD, your charges could come back, at which point you will not likely get the benefit of an ACOD again.
How to Get an ACOD
To obtain an ACOD, first you must get the agreement of the prosecutor in your case, who decides whether it may be appropriate in your case. Second, the judge must agree to the ACOD to adjourn the case. Doing this on your own can be an extremely difficult proposition, which is why you should speak to a criminal defense lawyer who can advise you on your case.
If you or someone you know has been arrested for a criminal offense, you will need legal counsel to help you preserve your rights and work to get the best possible outcome for your matter. A New York criminal defense lawyer, who is experienced in handling criminal cases of all sorts, can advise you of your legal rights and will fight for your best interests in court. If you or your loved one has been arrested, contact the Suffolk County criminal defense attorneys at McGuire, Peláez and Bennett at (631) 348-1702.