Massachusetts Court Dispositions

Below are standard names for court dispositions in Massachusetts. These dispositional terms are not unique to drunk driving offenses, but apply to any Massachusetts criminal charge.

CWOF: stands for continuance without a finding. If you receive a CWOF, technically this is not considered a criminal conviction. However, you have admitted that the Commonwealth can prove the criminal charges against you beyond a reasonable doubt. Accordingly, if you accept this disposition, you are acknowledging that the Commonwealth’s allegations are correct as the judge will have the prosecutor read from the police report and ask you if the police report is substantially true. A CWOF means that while a judge could find you guilty, that the court will continue the case for the period of the CWOf, typically one year and will not enter a guilty finding if you comply with the conditions of probation. If you successfully complete the probationary period, the case will be closed. If you violate your probation, the court can vacate the CWOF, impose a guilty finding and sentence you up to the maximum penalty provided by law.

Pretrial Probation: Pretrial probation is a very favorable disposition in most cases. Some district attorneys’ do not use this disposition often; it is used more frequently in Norfolk County than Bristol County for example. A pretrial probation means that your case will be continued for a period of time, typically one year or six months and if you do not incur further criminal charges and comply with any condition of the pretrial probation, the case against you will be dismissed. The value of this disposition as opposed to a CWOf is that you are not admitting to have committed the criminal charge alleged. Pretrial probation is almost never used for a drunk driving charge in Massachusetts.

Suspended Sentence: a suspended sentence is jail time that the court does not impose but suspends provided you comply with probationary conditions. If you receive a one year suspended sentence, if you violate probation and the judge revokes your probation, the judge is suppose to impose the one year suspended sentence.