If you have been arrested and charged with a crime in New York, there is a tool that may help you avoid being convicted. It is known as an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal (“ACOD”). Although other states may have similar programs, an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal is unique to New York.
In order to determine if you are eligible to enter into an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal, or if doing so would be advantageous to you, it is essential that you consult with an attorney.
Am I Eligible For An Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal?
Whether you are eligible for an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal is based upon the crime or crimes you are accused of committing and the specific facts surrounding your past criminal history and your particular case.
Do I Need A Lawyer?
In specific cases, your lawyer may be able to negotiate an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal on your behalf. If it is determined that you are eligible to negotiate an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal, the court will issue a set of rules and procedures for you to adhere to during the adjournment period. Upon successful completion of the adjournment period, the charges against you will be dismissed.
What Kind of Rules and Procedures Will I Have to Adhere To?
Rules and procedures during the adjournment period usually pertain to:
- staying out of trouble;
- avoiding additional arrests;
- attending mediation and/or education classes;
- paying restitution to the victims of your crimes.
What Happens If I Comply With These Rules? – Dismissal
If you are able to follow these rules for the predetermined period of time the court will dismiss the charges against you. This dismissal will function in exactly the same way as if you had gone to trial and prevailed.
So long as you follow the conditions of the order placed upon you, the charges against you will be dismissed and all records of your arrest and prosecution will be sealed and unavailable to the public.
What Happens If I Violate These Rules? – Revocation
If during this time you violate any of the rules set forth by the court, the order of adjournment in contemplation of dismissal can be revoked and the case against you can be restarted.
In order to get a better understanding of adjournment in contemplation of dismissal, let’s take a look at the statutes that govern it.
Article 170 – Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal
New York has two (2) statutes that define and outline the rules of adjournments in contemplation of dismissal. There is a general statute on adjournment in contemplation of dismissal and a related but distinct statute for offenses involving marihuana. Let’s look at both of the statutes in depth in order to see the similarities and differences.
C.P.L. §170.55 – The Specific Statute Outlining the Rules of ACODs
Subdivision #1: Either Party May Motion for an ACOD
The first subdivision of the statute states that prior to entry of a plea or commencement of a trial, if both parties consent, the court may order that the action be adjourned in contemplation of dismissal. Either party may motion for the order or the court may make its own motion, so long as both parties consent.
Subdivision #2: Court Must Release Defendant on Their Own Recognizance
The second subdivision explains that upon order of an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal, the court must release the defendant on his or her own recognizance. Furthermore, within six (6) months (or one (1) year in the case of a family offense) the court may restore the case if it is determined that a dismissal would not be in furtherance of justice. At that point the case would proceed, as it would have before the adjournment in contemplation of dismissal was ordered. If this does not occur during the prescribed time frame, the action will be deemed to be dismissed by the court.
Subdivision #3:Court May Issue Temporary Orders of Protection
The third subdivision of the statute states that the court may issue a temporary order of protection, which outlines all the specified conditions of conduct, the defendant is required to observe.
Subdivision #4: Offenses Involving Members of the Same Household
The fourth subdivision of the statute states that when the offense charged is between members of the same household, the court may require the defendant to complete an educational program addressing the issues of family and spousal abuse as a condition of the adjournment in contemplation of dismissal.
Subdivision #5: Agreeing to a Dispute Resolution Process
The fifth subdivision of the statute states that the court may condition the granting of an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal on the defendant agreeing to participate in a dispute resolution process. The defendant must further agree to comply with any settlement or award that results from the dispute resolution process. If either of these conditions is not met the court may reopen the case.
Subdivision #6: Community Service
The sixth subdivision of the statute states that the court may require community service as a condition of an order of adjournment in contemplation of dismissal. This community service may only be imposed if the defendant has agreed in advance as to the amount and nature of the community service. Part A of the sixth subdivision of the statute allows the court to require the defendant to participate in an educational reform program when the defendant has been charged with an “eligible offense”.
Subdivision #7: Alcohol-Related Offenses
The seventh subdivision of the statute states that when the defendant is less than twenty-one (21) years old and has been charged with certain alcohol-related offenses or violations of traffic law which indicate alcohol may have been involved, the court may require the defendant complete an alcohol awareness program as a condition of an order for adjournment in contemplation of dismissal.
Subdivision #8: ACOD is Not an Admission of Guilt
The eighth subdivision of the statute states that the granting of an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal will not be considered an admission of guilt or a conviction in any way. The subdivision further states that no person shall suffer any forfeiture as a result of an order of adjournment in contemplation of dismissal. Once the case is dismissed, all arrest and prosecution is deemed nullified.
Subdivision #9: Specific Situations Where Court May or May Not Order an ACOD
The ninth and final subsection of the statute outlines specific situations in which the court may not order an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal. When the defendant is accused of a moving violation of traffic law, or a violation of any local rule, law, or ordinance involving operating a motor vehicle, and the defendant holds a commercial drivers license, a commercial cleaners permit, or if the offense is alleged to have been committed in a commercial motor vehicle, an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal may not be ordered.
C.P.L. §170.56 – ACODs in Cases Involving Marihuana
C.P.L. §170.56 is dedicated to adjournment in contemplation of dismissal in cases involving marihuana.
Subdivision #1: States Which Offenses Apply to this Statute and Which Do Not
The first subdivision of the statute states which offenses apply to this statute and outlines the same procedural aspects of the adjournment in contemplation of dismissal as the previous statute.
It subsequently states a series of situations in which the adjournment in contemplation of dismissal may not be ordered, such as:
- The defendant has previously been granted an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal.
- A dismissal under this same section had previously been granted to the defendant.
- The defendant has any prior convictions for offenses involving controlled substances.
- The defendant has been convicted of a crime previously and the district attorney does not consent to the order.
- The defendant is a youthful offender because of acts involving controlled substances and the district attorney does not consent to the order.
Subdivision #2: Conditions the Court May Set, Modify, and Revoke
The second subsection of this statute outlines the conditions that the court may set for the adjournment in contemplation of dismissal.
- Supervision: The court may order the defendant be placed under the supervision of a public or private agency.
- Modification: At any time before the charges are dismissed, the court may modify the conditions of the order, as long as the total time period for the adjournment does not exceed twelve (12) months.
- Revocation: If at any time prior to the dismissal, the defendant violates any of the conditions fixed by the court, the court may revoke the order and proceed with the prosecution.
If the case is not restored to the calendar by the expiration of the time period, the case will be deemed to have been dismissed.
Subdivision #3: Records Related to the Arrest Must Be Sealed
The third subdivision of this statute covers the way in which any records related to the arrest and prosecution must be maintained. After the dismissal, all official records on file with the court and any other agency must be sealed and not made available to any public individual or agency except under specific circumstances.
Subdivision #4: Arrest and Prosecution Shall Be Deemed Nullified
The fourth and final subdivision of the statute clearly states that upon granting of the order, the arrest and prosecution shall be deemed nullified. As you can see there are some differences between the two statutes. On the whole, however, they operate in a nearly identical manner.
When is an ACOD Available?
An adjournment in contemplation of dismissal is only available in specific circumstances. Each adjournment in contemplation of dismissal may be negotiated on a case-by-case basis, making the compilation of a list of particular factors nearly impossible.
Each adjournment in contemplation of dismissal is negotiated between the District Attorney, the court, and the criminal defendant. The specific circumstances of your offense will impact the conditions of any potential order for an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal.
Factors Impacting Your Ability to Obtain an ACOD
There are some potential factors that are likely to impact your ability to obtain an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal, such as, but not limited to:
- Criminal history
- Age at the time of the arrest
- Level of the offense charged
- Court where the charges are brought
- Strength of the District Attorney’s case
- Victims or witnesses cooperating with the government
Because there are so many factors that impact whether or not an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal will be granted in your favor it is important to have a knowledgeable legal expert on your side.
In order to fully understand all the ways in which an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal may impact you, please call us today >>>
Is an ACOD an Admission of Guilt? – No
No, an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal is in no way an admission of guilt or wrongdoing.
Is an ACOD an A Plea Agreement? – No
No, an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal is not any sort of plea either.
Is an ACOD like Probation? – No
The period between the order and the dismissal is not a probationary period.
Is an ACOD the Same as a Traditional Dismissal? – Yes
As long as you comply with all the terms laid out by the court, an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal will be identical to a traditional dismissal. There is no difference between prevailing at a trial and being granted an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal.
Are There Any Negatives to an ACOD?
License & Permit Issues
You may face issues related to licenses and permits after you have been granted an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal. This includes:
- Personal Licenses/Permits – Example: Pistol or Firearm Permits.
- Professional Licenses/ Permits – Example: Medical License or Commercial Driver’s License.
Some of the consequences relating to licenses and permits could extend into the future indefinitely.
To learn more about how a criminal conviction can affect your personal or professional license, click here.
Immigration & Travel Issues
During the adjournment period, the record is still public and the country you are seeking admission to may be able to access this information as well. Therefore, it is possible that another nation may deny you permission to enter.
With the recent increased scrutiny on non-citizens by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal could bring immigration-related consequences.
You should speak with a knowledgeable immigration attorney before agreeing to an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal.
If it is determined that an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal may have negative consequences on your immigration status, your attorney should work with you to achieve the best possible outcome.
It is important to remember that during the adjournment period, an employer or potential employer may be able to access public records regarding your case. This can result in your firing or being suspended from your position.
One situation, which muddies the water in regards to any sort of acknowledgment of guilt, is a condition that the court may impose as part of the order of adjournment in contemplation of dismissal.
In some instances, the court may require that you pay restitution to a complaining witness. In the eyes of the courts, there is no admission of guilt and all court records will reflect this.
Certain other entities, such as immigration authorities and potential or current employers may not view this restitution payment in this light. It is possible an employer may deem these conditional payments of restitution under an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal as grounds for termination.
It is possible for an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal to be used against you in a civil case.
- If a condition of your ACOD was that you were required to complete a specific program, this information may be used against you in a future suit.
- Similarly, if you were attempting to claim that you were subject to a false arrest, agreeing to an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal in the matter might work against you in your false arrest case.
For these reasons, among others, it is crucial that you discuss your case with an attorney who has experience negotiating and litigating adjournments in contemplation of dismissal before agreeing to enter into one. The more time your lawyer has to review your case, the better your chances of a positive outcome.
We Are Here To Help, Call Us Now!
An adjournment in contemplation of dismissal offers a second chance to certain accused persons. While an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal may seem ideal for some individuals, it does come with some potential drawbacks, depending on your own personal and professional life.
For any questions about adjournment in contemplation of dismissal in New York, or to have a confidential consultation with one of our knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys, please reach out to use today >>>