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Stay of Adjudication vs. Continuance for Dismissal

On Behalf of | Sep 21, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

Nobody wants to end up in the courtroom, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. The good news is that you may have several options when it comes to your case. Today we’re going to talk about two legal terms that you may not already know: stay of adjudication vs. continuance for dismissal.

I have been able to see both of stays of adjudication and continuances for dismissal for my clients, and both are almost always great depending on the circumstances. This is because neither a stay of adjudication or continuance for dismissal results in conviction if they’re completed successfully. It’s important to keep in mind that while both can be great in the end and are similar, there are some key differences to look at when comparing a stay of adjudication vs. continuance for dismissal.

What is a Stay of Adjudication?

Simply put, a stay of adjudication is a sentencing format, or what the court may describe as disposition. When it comes to this format, it’s important to keep in mind that a stay of adjudication is different from other stayed sentence dispositions in that it does not ultimately result in a conviction.

Let’s break down a stay of adjudication in Minnesota so it’s easier to understand. In a stay of adjudication in MN, you’ll still give a plea but the court doesn’t accept it. It’s common for judges to say something like, “I do not accept your plea, and that’s a good thing.”

So, in an MN stay of adjudication a defendant is put on a probationary term. If they successfully complete probation, the case is dismissed. If the defendant violates their probation, the an MN prosecutor in the vast majority of cases will ask the court to revoke the stay of adjudication and enter a conviction.

Remember, in a MN stay of adjudication you already gave a plea. That means you do not get to then have a trial. If the violation is valid, the judge almost always accepts your plea at that time and enters a conviction. Depending on the situation, there may be further consequences including jail time and even prison. The state still must prove the violation.

Stays of adjudication can apply in many charges. While they are rare, with the right legal arguments, I’ve been able to land them for many of my clients. The threat of trial and other omnibus issues can often force a prosecutor into making an offer for a stay of adjudication. DWI’s are the rarest occasion, and I’ve managed to convince prosecutors to give in under unique circumstances.

What is Continuance for Dismissal?

continuance for dismissal in Minnesota is where the parties agree to put the case on hold for a probationary term. If the defendant successfully completes the term, the case is dismissed. In a continuance for dismissal in MN, you don’t give a plea, and you don’t admit guilt.

In an MN continuance for dismissal, you’ll have to waive your right to a speedy trial. The option is to have the trial within 60 days and risk a conviction, or arrive at the same result after the probationary period. While it depends on the evidence, the risk is typically not worth it and accepting the continuance makes more sense.

What are the Differences in Stay of Adjudication vs. Continuance for Dismissal?

While both of these options sound similar, there are differences to consider when evaluating a stay of adjudication vs. continuance for dismissal. The biggest one being that in an MN stay of adjudication, you make an admission in your plea. In an MN continuance for dismissal you do not. Keep in mind that these admissions may be used against you by employers, immigration and other situations.

If you violate a stay of adjudication, the State can ask the court to accept your plea and enter a conviction with no trial. In a continuance for dismissal, the case reopens and you still have a right to trial.

In certain diversionary programs that offer a continuance for dismissal, part of the agreement would be to provide a written admission to the prosecutor. In that case, you could still go to trial, but that is hard evidence to overcome.

In a stay of adjudication, you don’t need to waive your right to a speedy trial because it’s a final disposition. This means that you are waiving your right to a trial entirely, and admitting with a stay of adjudication. There’s no turning back.

Dissimilarly, you have to waive your right to a speedy trial because you can choose not to accept and have a trial. I have had cases in where prosecutors offer a continuance for dismissal, but I know if we force them to trial they will just dismiss the case. You shouldn’t have to complete probationary terms if you are innocent and they can’t prove your case.

What are the Similarities?

In MN, both a stay of adjudication and continuance for dismissal result in dismissal if you successfully complete probation. After one year you can apply for an expungement so that no one can see the court records (the court records will show that you received a stay of adjudication or continuance for dismissal). Quite obviously, people don’t want others to know they were charged with a crime, let alone made an admission (stay of adjudication).

In both, if the prosecutor won’t agree then there is no deal. A judge can provide this type of relief.

Have Questions About an MN Stay of Adjudication or Continuance for Dismissal?

If you’re looking for an outcome that keeps you from being convicted, you’re not alone. I want to help you receive the best possible outcome. Contact my office today to set up a free consultation and get started.