If you face criminal charges in New York State, you may receive an offer of Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal. Whether you should accept this offer depends on the circumstances of your case, but you should understand what it is and how it affects you.
How it works
Taking an ACD means the court postpones the disposition of your case for a period of time, typically ranging between six months and one year. During this time period, you will be on probation and will need to meet certain conditions the judge will set. For example, judges may require you to perform community service, attend anger management classes or complete an alcohol rehabilitation program. You also may simply need to avoid committing any other offenses.
What you have to do
If you comply with all requirements, at the end of the time period the court will dismiss your case. You will avoid having a criminal record, and only groups such as law enforcement will have access to your case records and know that you ever faced these charges. An ACD does not require you to admit guilt, so you do not have a conviction. Prosecutors also may not file a criminal case against you based on that case.
Why an ACD is not always best
While an ACD offers several advantages, you may be better off not taking it. You will have criminal charges pending against you during the adjournment period, and this can present a serious problem if you are a licensed professional, parolee or non-U.S. citizen. If you work in law enforcement, you will not have access to your weapons throughout this period and may face additional professional repercussions.
Always speak with your attorney before accepting any offer because your lawyer can explain potential consequences or benefits. Your lawyer can also negotiate with prosecutors, advise you throughout your case and mount a strong defense at trial.