What Is CWOF?
If you have been accused of a crime in Massachusetts, you’re likely wondering if you should plead guilty or not, or what options exist to have your criminal case resolved with a favorable outcome. This is one of the most important decisions someone accused of a crime may ever have to make in their life. Deciding whether or not to plead guilty, to send yourself to trial, to seek a CWOF (continuance without a finding), or a pretrial diversion can change the course of your life forever.
In a CWOF case, the defendant in question will have a plea hearing and acknowledge to the judge that they did, in fact, commit the offense in question. However, the judge will not find the defendant guilty, and the case will go to trial.
Deciding to take the CWOF route, or another route, is a decision best executed with the help and guidance of an experienced criminal defense and trial lawyer. The decisions depend on a number of factors that will greatly affect the strength of the case and the accused’s future. Typically speaking, a continuance without a finding (CWOF) should be an absolute last resort as the consequences of these decisions can be serious, and your lawyer will guide you and advise if this is the best option for your case.
What Is The Difference Between Dismissal, Pretrial Diversion, and Pretrial Probation?
The aforementioned processes are different decisions and routes you can take to have your Massachusetts criminal case resolved. If you were charged in a minor crime, pretrial diversion and have your charges dropped. With pretrial probation, charges are eventually dismissed over a certain period of time, typically several months to as long as a year.
All of these decisions are alternatives to pleading guilty for a crime and subjecting yourself to the process of a criminal trial. For especially serious cases, certain outcomes are simply not an option. For example, under Massachusetts state law, a CWOF is not permitted for repeat DUI offenders.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial court has leveraged the “separation of powers” ruling of the United States Constitution and the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights. For this reason, judges are not able to order dismissals or pretrial probation if the prosecution contests and does not agree with the ruling. The separation of powers clause makes dismissals and pretrial probation a responsibility of the prosecution (executive branch) rather than the judicial branch of the courts.
How Can I Get My Court Case Dismissed In Massachusetts?
A “simple dismissal” refers to the formal termination of a criminal case without any further penalty or obligation. Criminal cases can be dismissed if both the prosecution and defense attorney agree on whether or not to dismiss. This is the most simple and straightforward way to obtain a dismissal.
In some unique cases, a court case dismissal can happen if the prosecution and defense attorney disagree, but this isn’t a likely occurrence in Massachusetts. The judge on the court case may permit a motion to suppress. A motion to suppress is a motion that revolves around the exclusion of evidence from trial. In the United States, a motion to suppress is a request made by a criminal defendant in advance of a criminal trial asking the court to exclude certain evidence from the trial. This motion gets rid of certain evidence due to unlawful search and seizure by law enforcement.
Additionally, the prosecution will require that witnesses provide a formal testimony before a judge or jury at trial. Come the day of trial, if there’s no eyewitness testimony provided in court, it is possible that the court can be dismissed “for want of prosecution.” This is a favorable outcome.
How Does A Criminal Defense Lawyer Help Me Minimize My Penalties?
If your case does see trial, a criminal defense attorney will use a number of defenses to fight for your case in court. Your lawyer may assert that you did not commit the crime in question. If your attorney is taking the “no crime occurred at all” position, they might argue that any witness testimony is untrue or that the actions you took have nothing to do with the charges you are facing.
For cases where this defense stance isn’t possible, a different defense that your attorney may use is self-defense, which is typically associated with crimes such as battery, assault, domestic violence, or homicide.
It’s clear to see that creating a strong defense for a criminal case isn’t always easy. Getting your case dropped entirely simply isn’t an option for some. For that reason, it’s crucial that you hire a skilled and hard-working defense attorney like Paul Toland, who has decades of experience fighting for people just like you. Toland Law offers a free, no-obligation case evaluation for anyone who needs to know what options for justice they have as soon as possible.
Attorney Paul Toland is a former assistant district attorney who is uniquely qualified to defend you from even the most challenging accusations. Call Toland Law today to schedule your free criminal case evaluation.