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I've been offered an ACD (Adjournment Contemplating Dismissal). What should I do?

In New York courts, many defendants on lower-level cases (typically misdemeanors, but occassionally lower non-violent felonies) will be presented with the opportunity to receive an "ACD" or an Adjournment Contemplating Dismissal. If they are unfamiliar with the system, they might be skeptical when their attorney tells them that they should strongly consider accepting it. In my practice, what I typically hear from such clients is words to the effect of "Why should I have to take any deal when I didn't do anything wrong?" or "I thought you told me we could win at trial." These clients suffer from a fundamental misunderstanding. In those attorney-client relationships, it is my responsibility to clarify things for them. I will also do so as a courtesy here.

ACD is a miracle of case disposition. First, it does not require any admission of guilt or responsibility. None whatsoever. Therefore, the defendant is NOT pleading guilty, not giving up any rights to go to trial, any right to confront witnesses, or any rights at all related to the criminal case.

Secondly, they are not taking a conviction on their record(s). The case is still technically open until the deadline passes (assuming the defendant stays out of trouble and doesn't get re-arrested).

Thirdly, there is no requirement to post a bail, at least not beyond any bail already posted, if any.

Fourth, there are no fines or fees to pay.

And, finally, if the defendant stays the course for just six months (or very occasionally 12 months), the charges are completely dismissed as if there never were any charges at all. Signed, sealed, delivered. Such a great deal.

If you have the opportunity to take an ACD, there are no reasons related to your criminal case why you shouldn't take it in almost every case. There are some civil case disadvantages which may arise, but those will be discussed under a separate title.

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