A while back I wrote an article telling you about a CWOF. What is it? How does it work? What does it entail? You can check that article out here: What is a CWOF. Recently I have had a number of questions about the process of CWOF, including whether it can be done a second time around. The purpose of this article is to expand a little on the CWOF and address those inquiries.
CWOF – Continuance without a finding
A CWOF is a potential disposition of a criminal matter. CWOF stands for “continuance without a finding.” This is a disposition that is meant for a first time offender, one that has not had a criminal matter in a long time or other person with a short record. This is a step before a guilty finding and is not available after trial.
In short, a CWOF is gives you the opportunity to avoid having a criminal record. It’s a “second chance.” You are given the finding due to your lack of a record and you have the opportunity to maintain a clean criminal record in the future by successfully completing your probation. If you do well, you have no criminal record. The onus is on you to do well.
Theory Behind a CWOF
Generally, due to the theory behind a CWOF, a person should not receive the finding multiple times. You only get a second chance once, right? That said, there are circumstances when a person can ask the Court, and the Court may grant, a CWOF to the same person. If you have a CWOF on your record already, but it’s been a number of years since that finding, you can request that the Court consider a second CWOF. If you have similar complaints in several courts (where you also received a CWOF), you may receive a CWOF in each Court. If you’ve taken steps to improve your position, you may receive a CWOF. If you can convince the Court that you deserve one last chance for a special reason, you may benefit by receiving a CWOF.
So, how do you get a second (third, fourth, fifth…) CWOF? The finding that one receives is always based on the charge, the facts, his/her record, his/her situation (who you are, what you do, all about your background), steps taken toward rehabilitation, education prospects and the argument that your attorney is able to make on your behalf. It’s all about the argument that can be made on your behalf to either the DA or the Court. Sometimes you attorney can convince the District Attorney’s office to agree to your receiving a CWOF. That makes it more likely that the Judge will impose the finding.
Your finding always boils down to what you, or your attorney, can advocate on your behalf. If you are in a position where you feel you’re entitled to a CWOF, or you want to at least try and ask the Court to consider one, your best bet is to hire counsel and make the best argument that you can to receive one. As always, feel free to contact me to discuss your case and answer your particular questions.