An aggressive and skilled criminal defense lawyer can assist his client in navigating the criminal justice system in New York. Whether you are being prosecuted in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, White Plains or Yonkers, one possible outcome of your criminal case that you may navigate to, and a very good one under the right circumstances, is an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal or ACD. See CPL 170.55.
If, for example, you are charged with a misdemeanor such as Assault, Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance (drug possession), Petit larceny, or Menacing, an ACD, other than an outright dismissal, is the best possible outcome. When accepting an ACD you are not admitting to any crime, pleading guilty or stating you were involved in any wrongdoing. In practical terms, the case is being dropped and if you stay out of trouble and abide by certain conditions, the case will be dismissed and sealed within six months (or one year if it is a “family” criminal matter). If, however, you do not abide by certain conditions as set forth at the time of the ACD, the prosecution may seek to re-open your case and proceed on the original charges during the six months or one year the case is not active and prior to its dismissal. Once it is dismissed the prosecution cannot reopen the matter as it will be sealed.
In the case of an arrest and charge of Criminal Possession of Marijuana or Criminal Sale of Marijuana, an ACD is only available if, for example, you have not previously received an ACD or you have not been previously convicted of any offense involving controlled substances. See CPL 170.56.
A New York criminal defense attorney must analyze each case individually before advising his or her client to accept an ACD. It may be that an ACD is an acceptable disposition in your criminal matter, but it in some circumstances it may not be appropriate. For example, if you are considering suing the city or the police due to brutality, violation of your rights or another matter, an ACD may make that suit more difficult.