There are a handful of minor crimes that can be dismissed at a judge’s discretion when the victim requests that the charges be dropped in Massachusetts. Specifically, certain misdemeanors, such as assault and battery and domestic dispute charges, which the defendant could also be liable for in a civil action, are eligible for what is referred to in Massachusetts as a criminal accord and satisfaction under M. G. L. Chapter 276 Section 55. An accord and satisfaction is not an admission of guilt, but rather it is a form of resolution that can get criminal charges dismissed.
When a crime is eligible for accord and satisfaction, the criminal defendant has the opportunity to pay, or provide something else to the victim, in exchange for the dismissal of the criminal charges. The victim must agree to the accord and satisfaction, a judge must approve it, and the accord and satisfaction must be prepared in writing. The judge does not have to approve any accord and satisfaction.
The District Attorney is permitted to voice his or her opposition to the accord and satisfaction to the judge considering whether the accord and satisfaction is adequate. But the decision ultimately lies with the judge.
Offenses Ineligible for Accord and Satisfaction
There are a handful of situations that will render a criminal defendant ineligible for an accord and satisfaction resolution of criminal charges. For instance:
- If the offense committed was riotous, it is ineligible.
- If the crime was committed with the intent to commit a felony (for example, the criminal defendant intended to commit a felony, but failed to successfully accomplish the felonious act, thereby only resulting in misdemeanor charges).
- Offenses committed against law enforcement are ineligible.
Factors a Judge Considers When Evaluating an Accord and Satisfaction
Dismissing criminal charges based on accord and satisfaction is up to the discretion of the judge overseeing the criminal case, so he or she may assess a number of factors when making a decision. Some factors that are considered include:
- Whether the satisfaction is adequate;
- Whether the criminal defendant has a criminal history and the nature of that criminal history;
- Whether there were any mitigating factors involved in the criminal case;
- Any relationship that exists between the defendant and the victim; and
- Whether the defendant has voluntarily engaged in any programs, and completed those programs.
What Can Constitute Satisfaction?
What can constitute satisfaction can take many forms, but usually is some sort of payment. However, satisfaction could be other things, such as:
- Returning property;
- A written apology;
- Assurances that the offense will not recur; or
- An agreement to drop any counter claims.
When You Need a Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyer
Our Attorney is an experienced criminal defense lawyer. We have represented many criminal defendants, and she can discuss with you whether your case could be eligible for an accord and satisfaction resolution. Please do not hesitate to contact criminal defense Our Attorney either online .