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A continuance for dismissal, also referred to as a ‘continuance without a plea’ or an ‘agreement to suspend prosecution,’ represents a favorable resolution in criminal cases, akin to dismissal or acquittal. It signifies an agreement between the defendant and the prosecutor.

The police and prosecution are not the same entity, even if they work together to bring charges in many instances. Police investigate alleged crimes and attempt to develop probable cause to arrest someone or to charge someone. The state prosecutors take over once a criminal case enters the court system.

Prosecutors are sworn to uphold the ends of justice. In theory, they have the obligation to deliver a just result in every case. Through proper investigation, it is possible to convince a prosecutor that a conviction may not be necessary. Instead, agreeing to a continuance for dismissal can be the best option for the person accused of a crime. 

Receiving the benefit of a continuance for dismissal is a very good outcome for a criminal case. However, prosecutors do not give them out in every case. Having a tough, experienced, and savvy criminal defense lawyer negotiate a continuance for dismissal in MN on your behalf could increase the likelihood the prosecution will agree to one.

At Arechigo & Stokka, our award-winning criminal defense lawyers know the system well. Relying on their strong rapport and sterling reputation, Arechigo & Stokka criminal defense lawyers will work tirelessly for a favorable outcome, such as a continuance for dismissal, in your case.

How Does a Continuance for Dismissal in MN Work?

Minnesota law gives prosecutors the authority to charge people with crimes and recommend an outcome to the court. This is called “prosecutorial discretion.” Prosecutorial discretion gives the state’s attorneys a say in what charges they will prosecute. In other words, the idea of prosecutorial discretion means that prosecutors can overrule and change police charging decisions, including deciding not to prosecute a case at all. 

Minnesota’s law stating that a prosecutor is the only one with authority to agree to a continuance for dismissal is a good example of prosecutorial discretion. 

Why Is a Continuance for Dismissal a Great Result in Your Criminal Case?

The state of Minnesota is not interested in prosecuting every case to the fullest extent of the law. Part of the reason is that the system would completely bog down if prosecutors and criminal defense lawyers could not plea bargain a case. Perhaps more importantly, the vast majority of people, especially many first-time offenders, do not deserve to go to jail. Those folks benefit greatly from a continuance for dismissal. 

Having a criminal conviction on your record can have terrible consequences. You could lose your job, your home, your children, your right to carry a gun, and even your ability to remain in the U.S. if you’re not a citizen. Therefore, you need to do what you can to make sure you keep a clean record. A continuance for dismissal helps keep your record clean. 

The procedure is straightforward. If your lawyer convinces the prosecutor your case is worthy of a continuance for dismissal in MN, then you have to sign a written agreement. As part of that agreement, the prosecutor has to talk with any alleged victim to get their input on the disposition. The judge must sign off on it as well. 

If the judge consents to the terms of the continuance for dismissal, then the court will suspend the prosecution of the case. The length of suspension cannot be longer than the length of probation a judge could give after a conviction.

What Does the Agreement Say?

You, as the accused, must agree to obey all laws. The prosecutor could require you to do something in exchange for the continuance for dismissal such as attend drug treatment, pay restitution, or attend certain classes. The prosecutor might ask you to agree that some facts are true in the written agreement, but we can attempt to keep this admission out of the court record. 

You must keep in mind that you are not pleading guilty to anything. The court will automatically dismiss the case when the continuance period is over if you meet all the conditions. You can work to expunge the case from your record shortly thereafter. That is a great result. The state cannot reinstate the charges against you ever again as long as you comply with the terms of the continuance agreement.

You do not waive your constitutional rights when accepting a continuance for dismissal in MN. However, you must agree that you will not ask the judge for a dismissal for a speedy trial violation if the prosecution reinstates the case against you.

What Can Happen If You Do Not Meet All the Conditions?

Probation can be tough on people. Some folks are not accustomed to the structure that probation demands. If you violate probationary conditions after getting a continuance for dismissal, the court will put the case back on the trial list. The judge cannot sentence you to jail for the violation because there was no previous conviction entered against you. However, you will face criminal penalties if you are convicted of the crime. 

Once back on the trial list, you have the chance to file pre-trial motions to suppress evidence and then take the case to trial if you decide that’s the best option for you.

Working on Rehabilitation Can Shorten the Continuance Time

Under subdivision 7 of Rule 27.05 of the Minnesota Rules of Criminal Procedure, you can file a motion and ask the judge to dismiss your case early. The judge can dismiss your case if:

  • Your lawyer asks the judge to end the dismissal period earlier than stated, 
  • The judge gives each side a chance to argue its side of the case, 
  • You have no new criminal cases, and 
  • The judge finds probation worked for you. 

The prosecution can object, but they might not in some cases. Each case is different, so you need to review everything carefully with your lawyer.

Working with an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer Gives You the Best Chance to Receive a Continuance for Dismissal

At Arechigo & Stokka, we fight for the best result for you. Our history of success speaks for itself. We have helped numerous clients get a continuance for dismissal in MN. Talk with us today about your case to see if you might qualify for a continuance for dismissal.

Call us at 651-222-6603 to learn more about our award-winning firm and what we can do for you.

Author Photo John T. Arechigo, Esq.

Attorney John Arechigo has a passion for criminal defense in St. Paul, MN. John received his J.D., from Hamline University School of Law and also carries a Bachelor of Arts from, The University of Minnesota. John was named Attorney of the Year for 2019 by Minnesota Lawyer. Additionally, John was also named as a 2019 Rising Star and was selected to Minnesota Super Lawyers in 2021. He devotes nearly 100% of his practice to defending individuals charged with a crime.

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