When a New York Criminal Defendant is charged with a crime, aside from an outright dismissal or not guilty verdict post trial, an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal (ACD) is the best possible outcome in a criminal case. Usually, an ACD is available when the accused is charged with a misdemeanor crime such as Petit Larceny, Drug Possession, Trespassing or Disorderly Conduct and/or does not have a long criminal record.
For example, if you have been arrested for shoplifting and are charged with Petit Larceny, pursuant to New York Criminal Procedure Law (NY CPL) § 170.55, an ACD will provide you with a full dismissal of the charges in the interest of justice after a period of time prescribed by the judge – usually six (6) months – as long as you DO NOT get rearrested during the adjourned time period. Remember that your lawyer can make a persuasive argument to ask the judge for a shorter adjournment period.
You may ask “why would I want a shorter adjournment period?” During the adjourned period pending dismissal of your criminal charges, you have an open case, which may be visible in a background check. Thus, the shorter adjournment period your lawyer can get for you, the shorter amount of time a criminal case will be open and active under your name.
Why do you want your Lawyer to fight for an ACD?
An ACD in New York has many advantages. First and foremost, if you receive an ACD, you will not end up with a criminal record in New York State. Why? Because an ACD, as stated in NY CPL § 170.55(8) “shall not be deemed to be a conviction or an admission of guilt.
” Therefore, if you were not rearrested during the adjourned period, upon the end of the adjourned period, your arrest “shall be deemed a nullity and [you] shall be restored, in contemplation of law, to the status [you] occupied before [your] arrest and prosecution.”
This means that if a question on a school or job application asks you whether you were ever arrested for a crime and/or convicted of a crime, you can honestly answer NO because an ACD is not an admission of guilt. Rather, as stated above, an ACD deems the arrest and prosecution of your case a nullity, restoring you to the same position you were in prior to your arrest. As such, an ACD is almost as good as an outright dismissal.
Keep in mind that an ACD may come with community service or some kind of other rehabilitative program (e.g., Stop Lift) that you must complete, depending on the agreement between your lawyer, the prosecutor and the court.
Remember that an ACD is not easily obtainable and is not something you are entitled to by operation of law. Therefore, remember to hire an effective criminal defense attorney who will fight to get you an ACD or outright dismissal.