What is a stipulated order of continuance? Is it right for me?
A brief guide to stipulated orders of continuance.
IntroductionA stipulated order of continuance (SOC) in a criminal case is essentially a pre-trial contract between you and the prosecutor.
This is typically done for cases in which there are weaknesses in the case or the person just deserves a chance to prove that that they are not a "bad" person.
How it WorksThe SOC typically requires the Defendant to waive certain rights. At a minimum is the right to a speedy trial, but usually more rights are involved, such as the right to a jury trial, the right to present a defense, and other very important rights that one typically would have.
The purpose of giving up these rights is to make it so that the Defendant complies with certain conditions which could include attending treatment/counseling, paying costs, abiding by the law, and anything else the prosecutor wants to see happen to ensure that this pre-trial program is successful for not only the present case, but to prevent future involvements with the criminal justice system.
The flip side is that by waiving the above mentioned rights, if you violate the agreement, you run a substantial risk of being convicted of the crime just as if you had been convicted at a trial. You are then sentenced and can be given jail time, fines, probation, etc.
The major benefit is that for most SOCs, if you complete them, the case gets dismissed. Thus, the main factor to consider prior to entering into this agreement is if you can complete it. Second, is if you did not enter into the agreement, can you win at trial or are there any flaws with the case? That will let you know how strong of a position you are in for bargaining.
It is an important decision to make if you are offered such an agreement to understand what it is and to fully discuss it with your attorney.