First Arrest? No problem!

If you have been arrested in New York on a minor offense it is likely that you qualify for an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal, or ACD for short.   Minor offenses include misdemeanor class offenses that don’t involve a victim and violation class offenses.  An ACD means that the case will be adjourned for a period of time, from six months to a year, after which the case is dismissed in the interest of justice.  The term “in the interest of justice” is just a way of way of saying that the case is not worth prosecuting, in so many words.  Some factors which contribute to the granting of an ACD are that officers are unable to adequately articulate probable cause for the arrest (in which case you should push for an outright dismissal), the prosecution has a very weak case, the individual was arrested for the first time and the alleged crime was relatively minor, and other factors.  A misdemeanor class offense can include theft of a small amount of items or items that amount to a low dollar amount, criminal mischief (like damaging or defacing property) and possession of small amounts of drugs to name a few.  A violation class offense includes disorderly conduct and simple trespass.  If you have been arrested and arraigned on a felony matter you have almost no chance of getting an ACD.  Its not impossible, its just unlikely and it will happen later on in the case.

Under the Criminal Procedure Law, or CPL for short, there are two statutes under which an individual can receive an ACD:  section 170.55 and section 170.56.  Under section 170.55 the case will be adjourned for six months.  At an arraignment the judge will tell you to stay out of trouble (don’t get arrested) for those six months and the case will be dropped entirely. There is no further action you must take and you don’t have to come back to court.  There are no court costs that you must pay and you are free to go home immediately.   In order to get an ACD under section 170.55 of the CPL the prosecution must consent to it and your defense attorney must also consent to it with your approval.
An ACD under section 170.56 deals solely with marijuana offenses.  The period of adjournment under this section is one year after which the case will be dropped.   An ACD under this section is special, however, because it does not require the consent of the prosecution.  If your defense attorney demands it and you have never had a criminal conviction involving drugs or you have never had another marijuana ACD you are entitled to have it by law.  The only way the prosecution can prevent you from getting an ACD is if you have been previously convicted of a crime.  In this case, the prosecution has to consent as well.   The ACD under section 170.56 of the CPL is also special because it covers marijuana offenses from minor possession of a small amount to sale of the substance to another person.  Just to be clear, “sell” under the New York State Penal Law includes giving it to someone without exchanging it for money.

Just as a side note, if you don’t want to deal with the process of getting a marijuana ACD in the first place here are a few things you can do to keep yourself from getting arrested.

  1. DON’T smoke marijuana out in public.  This is the fastest way to get busted.  That skunky stuff permeates the air and it is far reaching.  Officers have nothing better to do than track down where the smell is coming from.
  2. If you must partake in the use of marijuana DO it in the house with the doors and windows closed.
  3. DON’T have the stuff on you and act a fool in the street.  Be aware of your surroundings.  Make sure you are not unnecessarily calling attention to yourself and making yourself visible to authorities.
  4. DO have your stuff in a smell proof container if you are going to walk around in public.  Unburned marijuana smells just as skunky as the burned stuff.
  5. DO have access a good attorney who will be available to assist you if you are ever in a legal bind.  
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2 thoughts on “First Arrest? No problem!

  • By Taran K -

    I had received 2 pink tickets for open alchohol containers, which I paid for on time, but I paid through the computer instead of sending in a check, I have a confirmation receipt of payment for the 1st offense and the credit card transaction for the 2nd offense, fast forward 1 1/2 later Iam drinking a beer on subway platform and instead of another ticket I was arrested, as I had 2 warrants out for the 2 tickets I had received, told the officers it was paid but no go off to jail then court next morning, stayed up 40+hrs, didn't know what was going on caught slapped with a PG TAR1050.7 the defense attorney said its good deal with me as its no criminal history, find it very unfair, I was never notified in the past 2 years, I paid for tickets I have proof, should have never been arrested, should have received an ACD atleast!

  • By Patricia Wright Law -

    Taran, I am sorry you had to go through that experience. I have been in central booking on the outside looking in as well as various police precincts around New York City. It must have been frightening for you. In the future please do not open yourself up for abuse by the authorities by participating in illegal activity in open view. Good luck in the future and thank you very much for the comment.

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