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Pleading guilty to a violation is more disadvantageous than getting ACD?

New York, NY |

In my understanding, a violation of law (not a crime) can be sealed under the NYS law section 160.55.

To me, the only difference between pleading guilty to a violation and getting ACD seems that ACD will automatically seal the record after 6 month (if I behave during the time).

However, I also read that a violation will automatically be sealed unless the judge orders not to do so.

So what is the disadvantage of pleading guilty to a violation which ACD doesn't have?

I am charged for misdemeanor A and this is my first time to be arrested. I went to my arraignment last week and am going back to the court in a couple months. I am not a minor.

Attorney Answers 3


To my mind, the ACD is more advantageous, as it is not even a guilty plea to anything whatsoever- it is an adjournment, and then a dismissal. The violation, on the other hand, is a guilty plea- usually to disorderly conduct, which is essentially a fictional disposition (penal law 240.20).

The one way the violation may be more advantageous is that the ACD will show up as an open case for the duration of the ACD (6 months or a year, depending). The violation should be immediately sealed.

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There is essentially a heirarchy of pleas in cases

an outright dismissal is at the top, with an ACD being next best and then a plea to a violation.

with an ACD you are not pleading guilty to anything.

A violation will be sealed if there is a conditional discharge attached to it, or upon a later motion by you (which would cost money since legal aid would not do such a motion for you)

an ACD is essentially a nice little package that you dont have ot worry about

by the way an ACD period is 6 months generally, and a year in certain cases (such as marijuana).

You will however be limited by what the DA is offering you, and what your defense is able ot secure for you.

there IS however a difference, a huge difference in that one requires you to admit responsibility while the other does not

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1 comment



Hey I just saw you comment and Im in a similar situation where I have 3 misdemeanors and a vioaltion, my prosecutor offered me pledge guilty on the violation and take an anger management course and they will dimissed the midemeanors... I talk to another lawyer other than the one that I have, and he told me something similar what you said where he would help me to file a motion to seal the violation later on once I pledge guilty on the violation... How does that work? he told to get a letter from the anger management course once its completed saying that Im better after the courses, but I would like to know how that works


On the whole, for most people, agreeing to an ACD is preferable to pleading guilty to a violation (or worse.)

The other disadvantage to pleading guilty to a violation is that you will have to pay at least a surcharge, if not a fine also. And ACD, which does not involve pleading guilty and being sentenced, does not carry a fine or surcharge. Both a violation and an ACD can include community service and restitution as part of the disposition.

Some people who need to get a case resolved completely and quickly may choose to take a violation. For instance, if a person is planning on entering the military, an ACD remains open and delays that, while the violation is done once the fine, surcharge and any other conditions are completed. An ACD, i.e., an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal, is a delayed disposition contingent on good behavior, agreed to by the prosecutor, the judge and the defendant. All have to consent to it. If the prosecutor does not want to offer it, he does not have to (except in certain very limited cases.) Some ACDs are for a year. Other people cannot stay out of trouble for six months and for them an ACD is slightly risky; an ACD could be reopened and they could once again be facing the original charge. (That doesn't happen often, but it happens.)

It needs to be noted here that the sealing of either an ACD or a violation will typically not completely hide the existence of these events from criminal justice agencies. Part of the reason for that is that such dispositions may be given to a first time offender, but if you were to commit any offenses later, you would likely not be given the same deal.

DISCLAIMER: This answer to a short simplified question is provided solely for general informational purposes only and is not intended to provide the specific legal advice you might need to decide your future actions. It is intended to provide you, and others with similar issues, a general, common-sense idea of the situation. Please consult with a local attorney to evaluate your particular case in the depth it deserves. This answer does not constitute legal advice, create an attorney-client relationship, or constitute attorney advertising.

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