WHAT IS A STIPULATED ORDER OF CONTINUANCE (SOC)?
In an SOC, the defendant enters into a contractual agreement with the prosecution. If the defendant successfully completes the various agreements, then the prosecutor will dismiss the case.
WHAT TYPES OF CHARGES DO SOC’s APPLY?
Most misdemeanors – including Assaults and Domestic Violence charges – can be dismissed by SOC. Indeed, DUI charges have their own device called Deferred Prosecution. For the most, part, however, sex offenses and some upper-level felony drug crimes are unlikely to be resolved by SOC agreements. Prosecutors view these crimes as higher priority to prosecute.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF AN SOC?
Famed war strategist Sun Tzu said, “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” That said, the main benefit an SOC gives is that at the end of the period of deferral, if all conditions have been met, the case is dismissed. There is no criminal conviction, and no need to seek an acquittal through a risky trial.
SOC’s are a win/win outcome. Because these agreements are contractual in nature, there really is no limit to the types of stipulations the parties can agree upon.
WHAT ARE THE DRAWBACKS?
SOC’s typically require a defendant to complete a treatment program, avoid criminal charges and pay restitution to victims. If the defendant fails, there there’s a risk of being convicted and sentenced of the underlying crime.
Also, in order to be accepted into an SOC, the defendant must agree to the admissibility of the police report if the SOC be revoked as well as the sufficiency of the evidence contained therein to support a conviction. Consequently, if a person is revoked from an SOC, the court has been authorized ahead of time to simply review the police reports and that all parties agree the police reports should support a conviction.
In other words, defendants who fail to comply with the terms of the SOC are almost always found guilty of the criminal charges. Finally, because the defendant must continue the case, SOC’s can be lengthy (up to 2 years to successfully complete).
TO SOC OR NOT TO SOC?
Ultimately, SOC’s are a privilege. Prosecutors entering these agreements must be convinced that the criminal charge was an isolated incident. The defendant must show they’re amenable to treatment and unlikely to re-offend. Consequently, Defense Counsel must make strong merit packages for clients seeking these resolutions.
SOC’s are highly favorable resolutions. They require a substantial amount of time and work to negotiate, draft, monitor and enter. Consult attorney Alexander Ransom if you believe your case warrants an SOC agreement. Good luck!
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