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Michael Litman April 11, 2016

An Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal (ACD) Under NY Law

An Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal (ACD) is one of the best case outcomes that can be offered in a plea bargain, aside from a complete dismissal. If you are offered an ACD, you will be able to resolve the case without entering a guilty plea. For an ACD, the case is adjourned for six months (or one year if it is for a possession of marijuana offense or a family offense), and as long as you stay out of trouble for the six months (or one year) period, the case will be dismissed and sealed at the end of that period. What that means is that at the end of the six months or one year period, the case will be off of your record, and you will have no criminal conviction as a result of that particular arrest.

When Can You Get an Adjournment in Contemplation Dismissal?

You may be able to get an ACD offer if this is the first time you have been arrested, and you are charged with possession of a small amount of marijuana. In situations where the charges are not based on marijuana possession, being offered an ACD will depend on the circumstances of the case, the level of the offense, your criminal history, your age, and the county in which the case is being prosecuted. For example, it is easier to obtain an ACD in Manhattan, Bronx, Queens or Brooklyn then it is to get one under the same circumstances in a county outside the city.

Another circumstance where an ACD may be offered is when the DA’s case is weak, or the alleged victim is not cooperative, which frequently happens in domestic violence cases. In those types of cases, you need to discuss the merits of taking the ACD vs. pursuing the case to try to get a complete dismissal.

Does ACD Show Up on a Background Check?

The short answer is: yes. Read more below!

Potential Problems with an ACD

There are a few drawbacks to receiving an ACD. While the case will ultimately be dismissed and sealed when you are given an ACD (provided that you complied with the terms of the ACD), during the period prior to the dismissal, the original charges are still open. That means that if anyone is running a background check, for employment or otherwise, they will be able to see the open charges. Another problem with an ACD is that it may be restored to the original charges if you get arrested again, especially if the new charges are in the same jurisdiction or are the same type of offense.

You need to speak to your criminal defense attorney about the benefits and drawbacks of accepting an ACD prior to deciding how to proceed with your case.


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