Recently, I had a criminal defense client who was charged with assaulting someone who he actually had an order of protection against.
Now that’s unusual – the party protected under the order of protection being charged with assaulting the person the order is supposed to protect them from! Needless to say, when confronted with these facts, it was obvious that something was not right and the arresting officer got his facts (or law, or both) wrong. I ultimately got my client a disposition where the charge against him, punishable by up to one year in jail, will be dismissed and the record sealed. A little sanity restored to the justice system!
To be technical, the client received what is known as an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal, or ACOD for short. What an ACOD means is that a case is taken off of the court’s active calendar for a period of six months or a year, depending on the nature of the charge. If the defendant stays arrest free, and follows any other conditions imposed by the court during that time period, the charges are dismissed and sealed at its expiration. If the defendant violates any conditions, the charges can be placed back on the active calendar for prosecution. Generally, however, if a prosecutor is willing to give you an ACOD, they will have little interest in bringing up an old matter months down the road for prosecution. Some things are better just left alone, as they say. The ACOD, therefore, is about as good as the colloquial bird in the hand. In this case, the only condition my client has to follow is to remain arrest free. For all intents and purposes, the matter is closed to his permanent benefit and relief!