Continuance Without a Finding

Have you or a loved one been charged with a crime in Massachusetts? Do you want to resolve your case without having a criminal record and/or avoid jail time? If a client chooses not to go to trial and to resolve the case through negotiations, there are many options available to resolve a case without the client receiving a criminal conviction. Attorney Kathleen McCarthy has specialized in criminal law for twenty-eight years and is familiar with all the avenues available to a defendant to have a case favorably resolved. One option is to have a charge “continued without a finding” [CWOF] for a period of time and then dismissed. Because there is no guilty finding it is not considered a criminal conviction. Depending on the circumstances of the case, it is often advisable for defense counsel to evaluate whether pre-trial probation, a diversion program or dismissing a case prior to arraignment are viable options.

If you are facing a misdemeanor for drunk driving (OUI), drug possession, assault, or other misdemeanor and/or felony charges, you may be eligible for a Continuance Without a Finding order. Call 978-975-8060 to speak with Attorney McCarthy about all of the available defenses and avenues for disposition.

Continuance Without a Finding

A Continuance Without a Finding (CWOF) is a legal mechanism whereby a defendant agrees that the Commonwealth has sufficient evidence to support its case. However, the judge does not find the defendant guilty. The judge continues the case for a period of time, and, provided the client satisfies and reasonable conditions and does not get charged with an additional crime, the case is dismissed. Thus, although the judge finds that there exists sufficient evidence to support a finding of guilt, no formal finding of guilt is entered. See Mass. Gen. Laws C. 278 § 18 for more information. The case can be continued for any period of time, however the typical continuance is for one year. Factors such as the nature of the criminal charges, the defendant’s alleged role in the case and the defendant’s criminal history (if any) are all considered by the judge. It is not necessary for the prosecutor to agree with the defendant’s recommendation for a “CWOF.” Often the prosecutor recommends a disposition different from defense counsel who must vigorously advocate for the CWOF.

If the defendant complies with the probation terms during the continuance period, the case will be dismissed upon completion. Probation terms vary and may consist of conditions as follows:

  1. Obey all court orders in addition to all local, state, and federal laws;
  2. The defendant must routinely report to his/her probation officer;
  3. The defendant must reside in Massachusetts throughout the probation term;
  4. The defendant must submit to random drug testing; and
  5. Home and employment visits conducted by the probation officer.
Violation of Continuance Without a Finding

If it is alleged that a defendant failed to comply with conditions or was rearrested, the probation officer is likely to bring the case forward. Under these circumstances, the “Continuance Without a Finding” order may be revoked by the judge and the case can be reopened. At this point, the defendant faces a probation surrender hearing and the possibility that a guilty finding may enter and the he or she is subject to the possibility of being sentenced up to the maximum term provided by statute for the crime.

If you are charged with violating your probation, you should contact probation violation attorney Kathleen McCarthy immediately. District Court Rules for Probation Violation Proceedings Rule 9 governs violation of conditions of a Continuance Without a Finding hearings in Massachusetts Courts. Depending on the nature of the alleged probation violation, the court may continue the Continuance Without a Finding, order it as completed, or modify, terminate, and/or revoke the terms if the alleged probation violation consists of a criminal act.

Seal Criminal Record Upon Dismissal

If the defendant’s case is dismissed, the Continuance Without a Finding order will still appear on his/her criminal record. However, a defendant can still represent that he or she has not been convicted of a crime for employment purposes.

It is imperative that you contact a Massachusetts criminal record sealing attorney to protect the privacy regarding your criminal history. Attorney Kathleen McCarthy can provide you with legal guidance and counseling on how to best go about sealing your criminal record. Sealed criminal records can only be viewed by certain designated agencies.

Contact Criminal Defense Attorney Kathleen McCarthy

Depending on the nature of the charge asserted against you, you may be eligible for a Continuance Without a Finding. Additionally, you should contact an attorney to find out if a diversion program or pretrial probation could be in your best interest.

Contact Kathleen McCarthy for a consultation to have your case reviewed. She will provide you with legal guidance on the best course of action to take. She provides legal representation to residents of throughout Massachusetts. Call 978-975-8060 to speak with her directly.