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Possible Outcomes

Pretrial Probation

Pretrial Probation is the safest way to beat a case and is often only offered in the final minutes before a trial.  Pretrial probation is just as it sounds, probation, prior to trial.  If the accused successfully completes the terms of their pretrial probation without picking up any new cases, the case is dismissed.  If the accused is unable to successfully complete the pretrial probation monitoring period, the case goes back on the docket for trial.  The reason this route is favorable to trial, even for a completely innocent person, is that it eliminates unnecessary risk.  The risk that a jury will find an innocent man guilty, or misinterpret the law is always a concern, in any case, and though these issues are appealable, eliminating the risk of such an outcome is often a wiser choice.

Continued Without a Finding

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 278 Section 18

In certain circumstances, cases can be continued without a finding. This gives people an opportunity to resolve matters without acquiring a “guilty” conviction on their record. The statute permits Courts to continue a case without a specific disposition. In these cases Judges can and will impose certain probationary conditions that must be obeyed during the continuance period. After the accused completes their court ordered obligations and ends their probationary period and the case cannot be considered an admission of guilt.  This finding is not as favorable as pretrial probation and does leave a paper trail.

Nolo Contendere Pleas

Pleading no contest or nolo contendere means the defendant accepts the punishment for a crime without admitting guilt.  Pleading no contest is essentially the same as pleading guilty. You’re convicted of a crime and a sentenced. The benefit of pleading no contest is that the conviction can’t be used against you later in a civil lawsuit related to the crime.  You have to get permission from the court to plead nolo contendere, and that isn’t always easy. A judge may refuse to let you plead no contest even after the prosecution agrees to it.  Like a regular guilty plea, a nolo contendere plea can be used against, you if you’re later charged with another crime. This type of plea appears on your record as a conviction.  It will show up in a background checks that might be run when you apply for a job or even look for an apartment.

Alford Plea

Here, the Court allows a guilty plea while the accused protests their innocence. This is typically not allowed as the state is not in the business of convicting the innocent. This plea was created for certain circumstances where the evidence is stacked against the accused.  Here a defendant may choose to plead guilty, not because of an admission to the crime, but because the prosecutor has sufficient evidence to obtain a conviction in court. When offering an Alford plea, a defendant asserts their innocence but admits that the state has sufficient evidence to convict them of the offense.