A continuance for dismissal, or agreement to suspend prosecution, is the next best thing to an outright dismissal or acquittal of criminal charges in Minnesota. A continuance for dismissal is self-defining, the prosecution agrees to continue (or suspend) your case for a period of time. At the conclusion of that time, the charges against you will be dismissed. This agreement often comes with a condition that you not commit any same or similar offenses during the suspended time and pay costs, which are usually no more than a few hundred dollars. Under this agreement, you do not have to admit any fault. You do not have to say you are guilty. The court does not find you guilty. You merely have to abide by the terms of the agreement and the charge(s) will be dismissed.

However, prosecutors may require you to stipulate to certain facts in your case as part of an agreement to suspend prosecution. The agreement must include a waiver of your right to a speedy trial. You have the right to demand a speedy trial within sixty days of making such a demand. If you enter an agreement to suspend prosecution, the court will want to make sure you are not coming back later, if the agreement is violated for some reason, and claiming your speedy trial rights were violated.

If you sign an agreement for a continuance for dismissal, or agreement to suspend prosecution, and you later violate that agreement, then you run the risk of being brought back into court to face the charges. You still have the right to have a pre-trial hearing to contest the admissibility of evidence and eventually a trial, if you wish. But, the guaranteed dismissal you were afforded at the inception of the continuance for dismissal agreement is gone at that point. You may also voluntarily void your continuance for dismissal agreement during the period of the agreement, if you so choose by making such a request to the court. Similarly to violating the agreement, you would have the right to pre-trial hearings and a trial. It is practically unheard of to voluntarily want to void a continuance for dismissal agreement early, because you are giving up the guaranteed dismissal possibility, so be sure to consider everything before deciding on this route.

For people looking to preserve their criminal background, continuances for dismissal are great. You get the chance to have the charges dismissed and you and you will have a good chance to obtain an expungement. One year after successful completion of a continuance for dismissal, and you have not been charged with any new crimes, you will be eligible for a statutory expungement. You will have a solid case for an expungement, because any objecting party to your expungement bears the burden of proving why you do not deserve it. This is the opposite burden compared to expungements of actual convictions.

Obtaining a result with no conviction is an excellent outcome for the vast majority of people. Continuances for dismissal (agreements to suspend prosecution) achieve that result. You can happily say you were not convicted of the crime and you can shortly thereafter move to have your entire case expunged.

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