Is a CWOF a good deal on a First Offense Massachusetts OUI Charge?
Before you Accept a CWOF on a First Offense OUI make sure you understand 3 important implications . . .
A common concern for people charged with their first OUI offense is whether or not they should resolve their case with a CWOF or 'risk' taking it to trial. Before I answer this question, it is important to understand what a CWOF is and how it affects the outcome of your case.
SHOULD I RESOLVE THE CASE WITH A CWOF OR CONTEST THE CASE AT TRIAL?
The reasons this question comes up in almost every first offense case is because typically a prosecutor will offer a CWOF if a person elects to accept a plea to an OUI charge.
A Continuance Without a Finding, also called a CWOF in Court, Counts as a conviction of OUI by the Registry of Motor Vehicles. A CWOF does not mean that the OUI charge was dismissed.
The most important thing to understand is that while a CWOF is technically not a conviction, it is an admission to the charge of operating under the influence of alcohol and will count as a first offense conviction for the purpose of license suspensions with the RMV. Additionally, if you are charged again, a CWOF will count as a conviction and you will be charged as a second offender. By accepting a CWOF, you will be placed on probation, have to complete a 24D Alcohol Education program and pay fines and fees while incurring a 45 day license loss.
- In most cases you will receive substantial the same sentence even if convicted after contesting the case at trial. Since a CWOF counts as an OUI Conviction, you should consider contesting the charge at trial. Typically, even if you are found guilty, you will not face a substantially different sentence after trial
chart level of proof in a criminal case
- Common Punishment After an OUI 1st Offense Trial
- Typically, the Court will impose a guilty finding with the same terms and conditions of probation as you would receive if you admit to the charge and accepted a CWOF.
The most important point to understand when you accept a CWOF is that it is an admission to the OUI charge. Some believe because of the case is continued without a finding that it does not count as an OUI conviction.
An OUI charge is the most common type of trial in the district court. You should only accept a CWOF if after reviewing the case and understanding all of your defenses that you feel as though it is in your best interest. Do not rush into the decision to get the case over, but take the time to learn your defenses from an OUI Attorney.
What are the benefits of a CWOF: The benefit of accepting a CWOF is that it is technically not a conviction; accordingly, if asked if you have any criminal convictions, you could truthfully state no. Additionally, employers doing a CORI check are less likely to see a CWOF, though for many occupations, an employer will have the right to see a CWOF on a background check. Those working in fields such as health care, banking, education and occupations involving a high level of service to the public may result in their employer having greater access to CORI records, making the record of a CWOF available to that employer.
If you have any questions regarding whether a CWOF is a good deal when you are charged with OUI in Massachusetts, feel free to call me at 781-686-5924 or you can download my free book to learn more about Massachusetts DUI laws.