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Understanding the meaning of a CWOF in Court

A defendant that accepts a disposition of a CWOF, appears before the judge, will acknowledge on the record that the facts contained in the police report are substantially true and will waive their rights to a jury trial or a bench trial and the judge will go over the constitutional rights that are waived when one accepts a plea agreement in a criminal case.

A disposition of a CWOF is often misunderstood as a dismissal. While the case is dismissed after the probation period, it still appears on a Massachusetts CORI for those with the appropriate level of access to see a CWOF on a record. Additionally, it is an admission to the charge where you will be placed on probation. If you violate the terms of the probation, by getting charged with a new offense or not complying with the terms of probation, you can have the CWOF revoked, a guilty imposed and be sentenced up to the maximum penalty under the law.

Complete the one year period of probation, the case is then closed and technically you do not have a criminal conviction. Some employers will still find out that you were placed on probation and received a continuance without a finding if they have a higher level of access to criminal records, but you can answer honestly on a job application that you have never been convicted. A continuance without a finding can be for a one or a two year period but it will often be for a one year period and can have conditions imposed. Typically those conditions will include paying probation service fees, paying a victim witness fee and not incurring any other criminal charges during the probationary period. A continuance without a finding is typically given to someone with little or no record on their first violation of a criminal statue. A continuance without a finding is a very common way to resolve a first offence OUI case, but may not be the best way for many to resolve those cases. To learn more about OUI cases you can read my book "Understanding Massachusetts Drunk Driving Laws".