A continuance without a finding, or CWOF is a form of plea allowed in criminal court. It is an admission that the prosecution has enough evidence (sufficient facts) against you to find you guilty of criminal charges, but is an alternative option to a formal guilty plea. Rather than risk a trial and fight a case that likely will not play out in your favor, a defendant may take a CWOF. They will be placed on probation without a guilty finding. The length of probation, and the conditions, are dependent upon the severity of the crime. This may involve mandatory classes, fines, drug & alcohol testing, or community service.
As the Defendant is neither pleading guilty, nor innocent, a CWOF is not considered a criminal conviction. As such, a CWOF will appear as a dismissal on one’s record to employers and institutions of higher education, upon the successful completion of probation. While your public record will show the dismissal, law enforcement always has access to your full record.
There is one exception with respect to CWOFs and this involves OUI convictions. A CWOF for an OUI is considered a prior conviction. If someone is pulled over and arrested for operating under the influence and they end up taking a CWOF; If they get arrested again for OUI, it would be considered an OUI Second Offense.
If you have been charged with a criminal offense and would like to further discuss your options, please contact this office for a case evaluation.