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Criminal Dispositions- Continue without a Finding

CONTINUE WITHOUT A FINDING- A Disposition Commonly Used in Criminal Cases

This article is the third blog article in a series of articles discussing criminal dispositions. The first two blogs dealt with Pretrial Diversion and Pretrial Probation.

A Continue without a Finding is a disposition commonly used in criminal cases in Massachusetts. Unlike the previous two dispositions discussed, Pretrial Diversion and Pretrial Probation, a Continuance without a Finding requires that the defendant admit responsibility for the crime charged. Despite the fact that the defendant admits to the crime a Continuance without a Finding allows the court to accept the admission without entering a guilty finding. This form of disposition it was created by MGLc 278§ 18. The statute states that "...a dispositional request that a guilty finding not be entered, but rather the case be continued without a finding to a specific date thereupon to be dismissed..."

This disposition allows a defendant to take responsibility for the crime committed without having a guilty finding enter on his criminal record. This type of disposition is often used for first-time offenders. It typically involves some form of probation with specific terms and conditions applicable to the crime charged. (See MGLc276§87) The terms and conditions applied will include all general terms of probation and specific terms such as substance abuse counseling, psychological counseling, anger management counseling, participation in community service or any other term applicable to the case at hand and deemed appropriate by the court. If the defendant successfully completes probation and abides by all of its terms and conditions, the case shall be dismissed. This disposition is particularly useful to a defendant who has no defense to the crime charged. It allows the defendant to avoid a conviction and have his case dismissed.

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