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What is an ACD in the context of a Family Court Abuse or Neglect proceeding?

What follows is a brief overview of an ACD in the context of an Abuse or Neglect proceeding brought against a parent or person legally responsible for a child by a child protective agency pursuant to Article 10 of the Family Court Act.

ACD stands for Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal. An ACD is a means through which a Family Court Abuse or Neglect proceeding may be disposed of. Where an ACD is entered, the matter is adjourned for a period of time (typically 6 months to 1 year). Certain terms and conditions are set forth that the accused (Respondent) must comply with during that period. Those terms may include that the accused not commit any further acts of abuse or neglect, comply with recommended services such as parenting skills classes, substance abuse treatment, anger management, counseling, etc., and comply with supervision by social services or another authorized agency. If those terms and conditions are complied with, when the ACD period expires the case is dismissed. No finding of wrongdoing is made where an ACD is entered.

Typically an ACD is available where the subject children have not been removed from the care of the accused, have been returned or in some cases where return of the child is almost certain to occur prior to the expiration of the ACD period.

If the terms and conditions of the ACD are not complied with, the agency prosecuting the matter may move to "violate" the ACD. At that point, the Respondent is entitled to a hearing to dispute the allegations that the terms of the ACD were violated. If the court finds that the ACD was violated, the court does not automatically enter a finding of Abuse or Neglect against the Respondent, rather the matter reverts to the stage at which the ACD was entered and may still be settled or proceed to trial. An ACD is viewed by many practitioners as the best possible disposition an abuse or neglect proceeding, short of a straight dismissal or withdrawal of the matter. Additionally, this disposition is sometimes favored over expending the significant time and expense that can be involved in obtaining a dismissal after trial.

THIS ARTICLE IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE. It is provided for informational purposes only. Actual legal advice can only be provided after consultation by an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction. Answering this question does not create an attorney-client relationship or otherwise require further consultation. It is strongly recommended to consult with an experienced attorney who is familiar with the facts and circumstances of the case before considering any plea agreement. Attorney Advertising.

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