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CWOF in Massachusetts Can Still Lead to Jail Time if Violation Occurs

A former Mansfield High School football player recently had his case continued without a finding for one year after admitting to punching a police officer and running from an arrest, The Sun Chronicle reports.

In Massachusetts, a continuance without a finding — or CWOF — is equivalent to a “no-contest” plea in other states. It’s an admission that the Commonwealth would be able to prove the charges in court, but it’s in the defendant’s best interests to simply end the case. After entering this plea to the court, however, the defendant must prove through conditions of probation in the court where the case was resolved that they haven’t slipped up.
If they have a probation violation, they can be sentenced to the maximum sentence allowable for the charge, which is a big reason to complete the conditions of probation without any problems. An experienced Attleboro criminal defense lawyer can properly advise you on what may be the best path to take in your criminal case. The prospect of future violations and the conditions of probation are two excellent reasons why consulting an experienced attorney is best done before accepting a plea offer.

Jamel Marshall, 18, was ordered to perform four hours of community service per month and pay $300 in court costs. The charges stemmed from an underage drinking party in Mansfield recently at which police attempted to break up the party. Prosecutors said the 18-year-old Marshall refused to sit down and then chest bumped and punched an officer in the face.

The former running back outran the police officer, but was later arrested nearby. He was one of two dozen students arrested and charged with unlawful possession of alcohol. The 52-year-old homeowner, whose 17-year-old daughter was the party’s host, was in the house at the time.

For admitting to what happened, the 18-year-old had the charges of assault and battery of a police officer and resisting arrest continued without a finding for one year. The charges of disorderly conduct and unlawful possession of alcohol were dismissed.

While it sounds like a good deal for Marshall to only get court costs and community service, the benefit of the deal really rest on the defendant’s ability to comply with terms.

With probation or other non-incarceration conditions, a defendant can slip up and miss reporting to their probation officer, skip an alcohol-based program if the charge is OUI or another misstep that can result in being back in front of the judge who just sentenced you.

If this happens, a hearing will be conducted in which the judge will have to determine whether the defendant indeed violated their probation. If the judge finds the defendant did violate, the court can send the defendant for prison for the maximum possible sentence for that charge, even if a term of probation has already been agreed to by both parties.

Your Massachusetts criminal attorney will explain this situation to you and help you understand the responsibilities you have after a continuance without finding in your criminal case to help ensure you have the best possible outcome.

Massachusetts Defense Attorney Michael DelSignore has offices conveniently located in Stoughton, Attleboro, New Bedford and Westborough.

More Blog Entries:

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court addresses the issue of when a judge can modify probation conditions without a violation of probation: October 2, 2010
Additional Resources:

Probation for ex-grid star, by Patrick Anderson, The Sun Chronicle

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