Adjournment in contemplation of dismissal

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In United States criminal law, adjournment in contemplation of dismissal (ACD or ACOD) may be offered to a defendant in the interest of justice with a view toward ultimate dismissal of the charge[1] The judge usually adjourns the case for a period of six months (sometimes a year) after which time the case will be dismissed as long as the defendant has stayed out of trouble (i.e., has not gotten arrested again). It is neither a form of probation, nor a conviction.

In criminal procedure, the defendant subject to the adjournment in contemplation of dismissal is restored to the status he or she occupied prior to arrest, either during or after the period of adjournment that accompanies the ACD: that is, all records of the arrest and after the period for which the ACD applies; however, a local law enforcement record of the arrest is retained by default, unless explicitly expunged.

The judge adjourning in contemplation of dismissal may impose specific conditions on the defendant subject to the ACD, which may include community service, drug rehabilitation, making restitution with a victim of the circumstances, avoiding contact with the victim, or completing some other diversion program. It may also be accompanied by an admonition to abstain from wanton, injurious, criminal, abusive or disruptive behavior. On the acceptance of the ACD and its without disposition and the defendant is released without bail condition.

In Alabama and some states a similar procedure is called pre-trial diversion or deferred prosecution.

Application and surrounding process[edit]

The burden of proof in the court systems which employ the system of ACD rests with the people (that is, the prosecution). If evidence demonstrating guilt is not presented, the matter is deemed dismissed, and the ACD proceeds along its standard course of action.

Similar ideas are called by different names in other states. In Maryland, it is termed probation before judgment. In Alabama it is termed as "pre-trial diversion". In New Jersey, it is called a "conditional discharge".

In New York State, a case subject to an ACD is normally dismissed and sealed on the date of adjournment, except on objection from the prosecution.[citation needed]

There is a separate provision for ACDs involving marijuana in the state of New York, under CPL 170.56.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ See e.g. New York Criminal Procedure Law, Section 170.55
  2. ^ Full legislation on Adjournment In Contemplation Of Dismissal In Cases Involving Marihuana.