Terms and Definitions
An Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal or ACD is a court order which requires the defendant to remain free from arrest and postpones a case for a defined period of time. The case is automatically dismissed if the defendant meets the required conditions. An adjournment in contemplation of dismissal does not involve an admission or finding of guilt.
At the arraignment of a person arrested and held for court, the New York City Criminal Justice Agency, a nonprofit organization, provides the court with a pretrial release recommendation for the defendant, which is based on a variety of individual risk factors, including prior warrants, open criminal cases, employment/education status and other indicators of ties to the community. For each case, CJA reports to the court whether the defendant: (1) is recommended for release on recognizance; (2) poses a moderate risk of failure to appear; or (3) poses a high risk of failure to appear and/or is not recommended for release.
A conditional discharge is a sentence by which a person avoids incarceration provided that he or she complies with certain court-mandated conditions, such as performing community service, avoiding further arrest, or completing a rehabilitation program. Unlike probation, a conditional discharge does not involve active supervision by a law enforcement officer. See N.Y.P.L. §65.05, §65.10.
A criminal conviction is a finding of guilt, by plea or by trial. Under New York State law, violations and infractions do not qualify as criminal offenses.
Under New York State law, police can release a person who has been arrested by issuing an order, called a Desk Appearance Ticket, directing the person to appear in criminal court for arraignment at a later date. Desk Appearance Tickets may only be issued for certain categories of charges. See NYS Criminal Procedure Law §150.10.
A dismissal is a termination of the case in favor of the defendant. Records of dismissed cases are generally sealed and do not appear in a defendant's criminal history.
Under New York State law, a felony is a criminal offense punishable by imprisonment for one year or more.
Under New York State law, a misdemeanor is a criminal offense punishable by a maximum of either one year of imprisonment (Class A misdemeanor) or 90 days of imprisonment (Class B misdemeanor).
Under New York State law, a "non-violent felony" is a felony offense that generally does not involve the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against another person, or conduct that presents a serious risk of physical injury. Non-violent felonies include drug sale and possession with intent to sell, larceny and other property crimes, and fraud and forgery.
In New York State, defendants sentenced to probation are required to meet regularly with assigned probation officers, maintain employment or education, participate in mandated rehabilitative programs and be free of new arrests. In most cases, the period of probation is five years for a felony offense; three years for a class A misdemeanor; and one year for a class B misdemeanor. See New York State Penal Law §§ 65.00, 65.10.
If the judge decides to release a defendant on recognizance, the defendant is released from custody while the case is pending without bail being set.
If a case continues beyond arraignment, the judge will decide whether to release a defendant on his own recognizance (without bail set), set a monetary bail, or remand the defendant (hold without bail).
When a defendant is "held on remand," the defendant is detained without opportunity to pay bail or post bond during the pendency of the case. Only defendants charged with a felony offense or with violations of a condition of sentencing (e.g., a violation of probation) can be remanded.
New York State law designates certain felony offenses which involve the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against another person, or conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another person as "violent felonies." Violent felonies include murder, serious assault, rape, loaded firearm possession, robbery and residential burglary.
A court may issue a "bench warrant" for a defendant's arrest if the defendant fails to appear in court as directed.