Generally speaking, an offer of an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal (“ACD”) to resolve criminal charges is usually an attractive plea bargain offer to a criminal defendant. After all, pursuant to New York CPL 160.50, individuals receiving ACD’s usually have their cases dismissed and sealed and deemed nullities after six months (or one year in marijuana cases). However, acceptance of an ACD can have negative consequences concerning possible civil lawsuits for wrongful arrests.
As explained in one recent case in federal court, Freedman v. Monticello Police Department, 2003 WL13571 (S.D.N.Y. 2003) (Buchwald, J.), acceptance of an ACD precludes a civil action against police officers (or the municipality that employs them) for malicious prosecution. The reason for this is that an element of the tort of malicious prosecution is a “termination in favor of the accused,” and although an ACD is not an admission of guilt or a conviction, it is not considered to be a “termination in favor of the accused,” either.
That being said, that case also explained that an ACD does not preclude a plaintiff from succeeding on a false arrest claim, as that tort does not require a “termination in favor of the accused” as an element. So, the bottom line is that acceptance of an ACD can have some negative impact on the potential recovery in a lawsuit, but it is not fatal to the possibility of successfully recovering damages.
If you or a loved one believe that you were wrongfully arrested and are interested in pursuing a civil rights lawsuit, you should strongly consider contacting an experienced criminal defense and civil rights attorney immediately.